What I thought when my plane crashed

From CNN Opinion, this article, written by Ric Elias I liked. I liked it so much, I decided to keep it here, for when it is not longer available at CNN. As I did with a previous article I kept from the WSJ, if CNN does not likes what I have done, let me know and I will remove it, or adapt it to a compromise. Please do not sue me.

I haven’t had a life changing experience like his, but I truly understand the learnings he gained from it.

Some emphasis mine.

What I thought when my plane crashed

When you start your own company and become your own boss, you think, “Life is good.” When you actually start making money and growing your business, you think, “Life is great.” But when you’re sitting in seat 1D of an airborne plane that’s completely silent because the engines have been shut down, and you hear the pilot say, “Brace for impact,” none of it really matters.

As I sat in the first row of Flight 1549, just moments before it crashed in the Hudson River that day in January 2009, the things that had once seemed so important no longer mattered. I didn’t have to talk to the flight attendant anymore. I could see a very distinct look in her eyes. It was the look of terror. And I was going to die.

It was a true miracle that I didn’t die that day. It was also an experience that changed me forever. It gave me a tremendous appreciation for life and an immense amount of gratitude for the pilot, Chesley Sullenberger, and the people who were sitting next to me. I took many lessons from that flight, three in particular that will shape the rest of my life.

I learned that everything changes in an instant. We all have this bucket list of the things we want to do in life. And I sat there thinking about all the people I wanted to reach out to that I didn’t, all the fences I wanted to mend, all the experiences I wanted to have and never did. So I came up with a new saying for myself: I collect bad wines. Because if the wine is ready and the person is there, I’m opening it. I no longer want to postpone anything in life. And that urgency, that purpose, has changed me —as a husband, as a father, and as a business owner.

The second thing I learned that day—and this was as we cleared the George Washington Bridge, which was by not a lot: I thought, “Wow, I really feel one real regret.” I’ve lived a good life. I’ve learned from my mistakes and I’ve tried to get better at everything I do. But in my humanity, I’ve also allowed my ego to get in. And I regretted the time I wasted on things that didn’t matter.

I thought about my relationship with my wife, with my friends, with people. And as I reflected on that, I decided to eliminate negative energy from my life. Things aren’t perfect, but they’re a lot better. I haven’t had a fight with my wife in two years. It feels great. I no longer try to be right — I choose to be happy.

The third thing he learned, which the article does not mention, is that the only thing that matter in his life is to be with his kids. I too would trade anything to be with mine. You can see his TED appeareance as well.