“In the end we only regret the chances we didn’t take….”
Many of us move through life never stopping to ‘smell the roses’, and often we don’t reflect back on what is truly important until we are facing our own mortality.
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Bonnie Ware, a palliative care nurse who is around death all day, decided she was going to record the top regrets of those facing death.
This is what she found:
Top Regret #1: I wish I had the courage to live a life true to myself and not for others
When you are facing the end of your life, it is common to look back and review the things that you didn’t do, rather than the things that you did.
“Most people had not honoured even half of their dreams and had to die knowing that it was due to choices they had made or not made,” stated Ware.
While it is common to outgrow dreams, giving up on your dreams and goals because of what others may think or say of you, is the quickest way to land yourself in the space of regret.
Top Regret #2: I wish I hadn’t worked so hard
This regret sums it all up- value your time and spend it on things that truly have meaning to you.
Ware commented that almost every male patient she spoke to regretted not spending enough time with their families and too much time at work. They also regretted missing important milestones for what they thought were important business meetings, trips and assignments.
Most of us get so caught up in the rat race, and for what? For money, success fame? Often we don’t even realize what we are chasing or what we are running towards until it is too late.
Read: 9 choices your future self will (definitely) regret
Top Regret #3: I wish I had the courage to express my feelings
Not telling the truth, or sharing how you really feel was another common regret. Ware stated that many patients felt that they had carried unnecessary resentment and pain because they hadn’t made it a priority to express how they really felt.
Don’t delay, if you have something on your mind just say it and if you can’t say it, let it go. There is no point carrying around unnecessary anger, guilt or shame – it serves no purpose.
Top Regret #4: I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends
Over the years it is easy to let friendships slip by, especially when you start settling down and have a family.
Ware found time and time again that patients regretted not staying in touch and honoring their friendships.
“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”, commented Ware.
Who is important to you in your life? Why not reach out today and tell them how much they mean to you.
Top Regret #5: I wish I had let myself be happier
Happiness is definitely a choice and every day we make the conscious decision whether to choose happiness or not.
Many patients regretted not making simpler life choices that supported what they truly desired rather than living in fear.
“Fear of change had them pretending to others and to their selves that they were content, when deep within, they longed to laugh properly” stated Ware.
There truly is nothing to fear except fear itself. Fear is an illusion that holds us back and prevents us from fully appreciating life.
Read: Looking Back: 4 Things You’ll Regret Doing in the Near Future
You don’t need to wait until you are on your death bed, take a moment now to reflect on your life and ask yourself- What can I be doing now to lead a regret-free life?