How can you live a richer life? The answer comes from dying people who shared the top five regrets they had in life.
Most people in the world want something more – something better. It could be:
- More love
- Better health
- More money
- More free time
- Better look, nicer body
- More recognition
- More respect
- More self-esteem
- More security
- Better conditions
Everything boils down to the fact that we want to be happy and safe. We want to enjoy life without worries. And most people seek this happiness outside themselves.
We think that the car or the house, or the person, or the body, or the appearance, or a certain amount of money will make us happy.
It’s not the outside that makes us happy. Happiness comes from within. They way we choose to look at life – our perception of the world – make all the difference.
According to the book The Top Five Regrets of the Dying by Bonnie Ware life is about being true to yourself and not living a life that is expected of you to live.
Steve Jobs said the same thing: Don´t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice.
Bronnie Ware is an Australian nurse who spent several years working in palliative care, caring for patients in the last 12 weeks of their lives.
She recorded their dying epiphanies in a blog called Inspiration and Chai, which gathered so much attention that she put her observations into a book called The Top Five Regrets of the Dying.
Ware writes of the phenomenal clarity of vision that people gain at the end of their lives, and how we might learn from their wisdom.
“When questioned about any regrets they had or anything they would do differently,” she says, “common themes surfaced again and again.”
Here are the top five regrets of the dying, as witnessed by Ware:
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 realise 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 honoured even a half of their dreams and had to die knowing that it was due to choices they had made, or not made. Health brings a freedom very few realise, until they no longer have it.”
2. I wish I hadn’t worked 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.”
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.”
4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.
“Often they would not truly realise 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.”
5. I wish that I had let myself be happier.
“This is a surprisingly common one. Many did not realise 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.”
What’s your greatest regret so far, and what will you set out to achieve or change before you die?
It´s never too late to start on a new path in life. I was 40 years old before I decided to change my life and be true to myself. It was the best decision I´ve ever made.
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