I read about this topic on theguardian.com and was very intrigued by this story. Bronnie Ware worked for years in palliative care and therefore had shared very special times with her patients who were on their death bed. She describes that every one of her patients had peace before they departed but that many of them had common regrets. I will share those 5 common regrets with you:
1. “I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expect of me.”
This is the most common regret of all. When people realize that their life is close to being over, and people start looking back on the life they’ve lived, it is easy to see how many dreams have gone unfulfilled. It is very important to keep track of your dreams, to be able to decide whether now is a moment to fulfil them. Many people honored only a few of their dreams, due to choices they made, or not made. It is important to try and honor at least some of your dreams along the way. Health brings a freedom, whom only few are aware of, until they no longer have it. Keep track of what you want in life, and go get it!
2. “I wish I didn’t work so hard.”
This is something every single one of her male patients told her, but in those days man where the mean breadwinner. But this regret is applicable for anyone nowadays. We are so focused on getting that promotion, earning a luxurious amount of money, all for the brighter future that we have in mind. But while working, you have to give up time with your kids, family, friends and partner. A possible solution is simplifying your lifestyle. Make conscious choices along the way, it is possible to not need the income that you think you do. Do not put the bar so high for yourself and your future. By creating space in your life and mind, you become happier and more open to new opportunities!
3. “I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings.”
Many people suppress their feelings, to be as likable as possible, or to keep peace with others. As a result, they settled for a mediocre existence, never got to live with their true selves and never became who they were capable of becoming. In some cases, people developed illnesses relating to the bitterness, resentment and the bottled up emotions as a result. It is important to know that we cannot control the reactions of others. However, when you decide to be honest and start speaking honestly, the relationships you have with people will transform. These relationships will start giving you more energy because you start living a truthful, honest and healthy life. Another side effect will be that the relationship will be raised to a whole new and healthier level. It’s good to keep in mind that people might initially react to your freshly expressed honesty. And it might in some cases lead to a release of an unhealthy relationship from your life. Though there is a difference between honesty and cruelty. Be careful to always value the other person, even when you don’t like them. It is not up to you to break someone down. Be who you are, and leave others do the same.
4. “I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.”
People dying, always feel the need for being reunited with old friends. But sadly, by that time it is not always possible to track them down. Many friendships were not given the time and effort they deserved. Don’t let it come as far, that you don’t have the time to meet your friends until you are on your death bed. It is common to live a busy lifestyle and have friendships slip. But friendships are of true importance, people dying always start asking for dear old friends. Love and relationships are the things that matter most. You won’t take any of your money or possessions with you when you pass. But love and relationships are made from and in the heart. Those are with you always and will linger long after you have passed.
5. “I wish that I had let myself be happier.”
This one shows us that happiness is a choice. You can choose to focus on the happy parts of your life, and not get hung up on all the bad things that ever happened to you. Bad things happen to all of us. But how we deal with them, will predict whether we live a happy life or not. There is a comfort in living old habits and not trying to change old patterns. Change is scary, and often not easy. But definitely not impossible. So decide how you want to live your life. And shape your life to go with it. Live your own.
As Bronnie Ware said it so beautifully: “Life is a choice. It is YOUR life. Choose consciously, choose wisely, choose honestly. Choose HAPPINESS.”