The contemporary mechanisms in any field of work demands us to be constantly at our ‘A’ game regardless of the career we pursue. We are dragged into a mechanical existence which denies us the time to appreciate the beauty in mundane things. We hardly take out any time to acknowledge our surroundings or contemplate our past choices until we are faced with the realization of an approaching death.
Bronnie Ware, A palliative nurse who’s surrounded by death, finally decided to keep a record of the top regrets of her patients who were facing sure death. She wrote a book on this subject called “The Top Five Regrets of the Dying: A Life Transformed by the Dearly Departing.“
“My patients were those who had gone home to die. Some incredibly special times were shared. I was with them for the last three to twelve weeks of their lives.”“For many years I worked in palliative care…”
When questioned about any regrets people make, or anything they would do differently, common themes surfaced again and again. Here are the most common five.
1. “I Wish I had the Courage to Live a Life True to Myself and Not for Others”
When you are living the last days of your life it is common to reflect on past actions that were left undone more than the ones that were acted upon.
“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,” stated Ware.
Giving up on personal goals for the sake of others usually leads you to immense regret.
2. “I Wish I hadn’t Worked so Hard”
This regret is common to most people who regret not spending enough time with their families due to extensive work schedules. This was the case with almost every male patient Ware talked to.
Getting caught up in the rat race and over-working ourselves to achieve name, fame, success, and money at the cost of avoiding family trips and personal assignments usually result in a state of disillusionment and extreme regret that we realize, but not before it is too late…
3. “I wish I 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.
4. “I Wish I had stayed in Touch with my Friends”
There were many deep regrets about not giving friendships the time and effort that they deserved. Ware states “Often they would not truly realize the full benefits of friends until their dying weeks and it was not always possible to track them down.”
Figure out who matter most to you in life, and make sure you have them by your side.
5. “I Wish I had let myself be Happier”
Happiness is a choice rather than a consequence of situations. It is important we make choices based on our happiness and not our fears.
Ware expressed “Fear of change had them pretending to others and to their selves that they were content, when deep within, they longed to laugh properly.”
Fear is the only thing that holds us back from experiencing happiness and appreciating life to the fullest. Do not leave room for regret in your last days. Act on your choices and be as happy as you wish to be.
You can buy and read her book HERE.
“In the end we only regret the chances we didn’t take”