I’m not usually one to open email forwards that people send me.

You know, the emails that are sent en masse to someone’s email contact list, that contain some kind of joke, virus scare warning, or cutesy story.

Some of the worst offenders are my parents, who send them to me more than anyone else. I just don’t think they’ve learned yet that email forwards haven’t really been cool since probably 1999. I usually delete them before I even look (sorry guys).

But alas, the other day a saw an email forward in my inbox from a friend of mine. And since it wasn’t from one of my parents, I decided to take a chance and have a little look-see.

I’m glad that I did because it actually contained a valuable lesson for all of us!

So, the story in this email forward was written by someone named Bronnie Ware – whoever that is – and she is a home care nurse who spends a lot of time with elderly folks as they are about to pass on. For years she has been observing how people deal with their impending mortality, and she has noticed that there is a definite trend in what people say they regret about their lives and if given a second chance, what they would do differently.

Their answers really spoke to me, because it reminded me exactly of the way that people with acne can react to their own lives. I’m guessing that if mortality was just around the corner, most of us would regret spending all of our time worrying about some spots.

Anyway, what were the top five regrets?

1. I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me

“This was the most common regret of all. When people realize that their life is almost over and look back clearly on it, it is easy to see how many dreams have gone unfulfilled. Most people had not honored even half of their dreams and had to die knowing that it was due to choices they had made, or not made.

It is very important to try and honor at least some of your dreams along the way. From the moment that you lose your health, it is too late. Health brings a freedom very few realize, until they no longer have it.”

Are you holding yourself back from your dreams because of your acne? Are you expecting to fulfill them once you get clear, but self sabotaging yourself in the present? How long can you put them off for? Are you doing it because you think others expect you to look a certain way, and you’re immobilizing yourself until you can fulfill their expectations (which are most likely completely exaggerated by your own mind)?

What if you never got clear… do you want to look back on your life and only see shattered dreams? Because of a few spots??

2. I wish I didn’t work so hard

“This came from every male patient that I nursed. They missed their children’s youth and their partner’s companionship. Women also spoke of this regret. But as most were from an older generation, many of the female patients had not been breadwinners. All of the men I nursed deeply regretted spending so much of their lives on the treadmill of a work existence.

By simplifying your lifestyle and making conscious choices along the way, it is possible to not need the income that you think you do. And by creating more space in your life, you become happier and more open to new opportunities, ones more suited to your new lifestyle.”

This obviously doesn’t apply to everyone with acne. But for you busy-bodies out there, think about maybe slowing down in your life in order to look after yourself. Living life in the fast lane is tough… perhaps the reason you are getting acne is because you aren’t taking the time to relax. You’re always on the go, and all you have time to do is grab fast food, let alone exercise or take a breather. You’re always stressed and you think that sleep is for the weak.

Are there any commitments you can cut back on? Taking time to smell the roses will definitely make you happier person, and probably improve your complexion at the same time.

3. I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings

“Many people suppressed their feelings in order to keep peace with others. As a result, they settled for a mediocre existence and never became who they were truly capable of becoming. Many developed illnesses relating to the bitterness and resentment they carried as a result.

We cannot control the reactions of others. However, although people may initially react when you change the way you are by speaking honestly, in the end it raises the relationship to a whole new and healthier level. Either that or it releases the unhealthy relationship from your life. Either way, you win.”

I’ve said it many times before… long term acne problems almost always have roots in emotional issues that we are hiding away from ourselves (ie.self esteem problems, feelings of inferiority). Not only that, but since acne is not a problem that is easy to openly talk about, we are often left bottling our turmoiled feelings up inside until they kill us.

Be as honest and open as you can with yourself and with others about emotional issues you’re dealing with. If you can’t get support in real life, even sharing it with a community on the internet can help. It is much healthier to share than to hold it inside. Emotions held inside are the ones that cause health problems, including acne.

4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends

“Often they would not truly realize the full benefits of old friends until their dying weeks and it was not always possible to track them down. Many had become so caught up in their own lives that they had let golden friendships slip by over the years. There were many deep regrets about not giving friendships the time and effort that they deserved. Everyone misses their friends when they are dying.

It is common for anyone in a busy lifestyle to let friendships slip. But when you are faced with your approaching death, the physical details of life fall away. People do want to get their financial affairs in order if possible. But it is not money or status that holds the true importance for them. They want to get things in order more for the benefit of those they love. Usually though, they are too ill and weary to ever manage this task. It is all comes down to love and relationships in the end. That is all that remains in the final weeks, love and relationships.”

Oh, hello. Ever find yourself cancelling on plans when your skin is acting up? Ever find yourself hiding away and not participating on outings and trips and days at the beach because of your breakouts? If you don’t go so far as to cancel or get out of plans, do you find that when you do spend time with your friends, you aren’t present? Instead, your mind is constantly racing, thinking about your acne and just aching to go home and look in the mirror, or wash your face?

Yeah. We’ve all been there. It’s not healthy. Don’t hide away… human connections are incredibly healing and will only help you get better. Your friends love you for who you are, and absolutely not because of the state of your skin.

5. I wish that I had let myself be happier

“This is a surprisingly common one. Many did not realize until the end that happiness is a choice. They had stayed stuck in old patterns and habits. The so-called ‘comfort’ of familiarity overflowed into their emotions, as well as their physical lives. Fear of change had them pretending to others, and to their selves, that they were content. When deep within, they longed to laugh properly and have silliness in their life again.

When you are on your deathbed, what others think of you is a long way from your mind. How wonderful to be able to let go and smile again, long before you are dying. Life is a choice. It is YOUR life. Choose consciously, choose wisely, choose honestly. Choose happiness.”

Choose happiness.

As hard as that may seem to believe, happiness is a choice. Acne is an awful experience, and it may never seem like you could be happy while you have it. But acne is not physically stopping you from doing anything that you could do with clear skin. You are letting it hold you hostage.

I don’t mean that you have to accept acne, or stop trying to get rid of it. But you can choose to be happy in the present moment while you are in process of working through it, instead of putting your life on hold. Live your life as if you were already clear.

I know you can all get clear, because I believe in each and every one of you, but what if you never did? Would you be happy on your deathbed knowing that you had spent your whole life hiding away, worrying about acne, and never fulfilling your dreams? I know that you wouldn’t.

So make a change. Visit a friend. Dance in the rain. Live a beautiful life, acne or no acne. Whatever you do, just don’t end up like the people in this silly email forward when you’re old and gray. Life is too short for that.

photos by Camdiluv AmmyLynn and Emery Way