A palliative nurse, Bronnie Ware, who has counseled lots of people in their last days has written down the most common regrets they all had at the end of their lives. It seems as if they all gain a phenomenal clarity of vision in the end.And the most important part (also why I’m writing about it), is that we might learn from them in order not to make the same mistakes. Because it turns out that common themes surfaced over and over again.
The five most common regrets are these:
- I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.
- I wish I hadn’t worked so hard.
- I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings.
- I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.
- I wish that I had let myself be happier.
Let’s take a moment to have a closer look to all of them.
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. People realized that a lot of dreams simply stayed dreams and never became reality because of their choices. It weren’t dreams that were impossible, they just asked for courage to change, to be true to yourself, also when it means you might disappoint someone for instance. And these things sound easy, but aren’t easy at all. We people are very sensitive to approval and being loved. And too many times we believed our choices could influence whether we would be loved or not. While true love is always unconditional. Sounds like a cheesy line, but if you think about it, you might find truth in it. People who wouldn’t love us anymore for certain choices. Are they worth our love at all?
2. I wish I hadn’t worked so hard.
Kids grow up so fast. It’s something every parent will tell you. So enjoy every bit of it. But can we really when we’re working all day and sometimes even more than that? But we’re working for our children’s future. Well, what if you would work on their present? Do you really need that second car? Or the fancy flatscreen tv? It looks sometimes as if we’re not really living, but surviving. We need to put food on the table. Yes, but honestly? All that work just for some food? I don’t think so. We lost what’s really important. And as a society we grew so fast that we as individuals can’t follow. So we still give the same reasons as our great grandparents did. The only difference is that it might have been true for them, it’s not for us anymore.
3. I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings.
We live in a society were tears and other signs of emotion are seen as weakness. That is such a pity, since it is the exact way around. A lot of people don’t want to make fuss about something, just keep peace with others. The price for that is settling for a mediocre existence. Never truly show themselves. A lot of psychological illnesses where developed this way. And it is my honest believe this is one of the reasons why there’s so many of people suffering psychologically these days.
4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.
How many people get caught up in their relationships and families and lives and let friendships slowly slip away. Their partner or their family feels like all they need. It’s not that we totally shut them out. We just don’t do the girl trips (or the boys night out) anymore. We schedule a meeting and sometimes even cancel because it’s just too much after a long day at work.
When it comes to a divorce or another kind of problem, some of us realize and change. But will they be able to hold on to it when things go better again? How come this is something we can’t realize when we’re not desperate or at the end of our days?
5. I wish that I had let myself be happier.
How many of you realize happiness is a choice? You don’t have to stay stuck in old patterns and habits. And yes we are told we are responsible for our own happiness, but at the same time we’re told that there’s reality. As if there’s no happiness in reality? We stay in our comfort zone, with all the familiar things and try to believe that is happiness. Fear of change and of everything outside of that comfort zone, makes us pretend, to others and to ourselves, that we are happy. But deep within, sometimes, we know there might be a bit more to it…
So, wouldn’t you agree with me if I told you this requires immediate action? Let’s take an honest look to ourselves and dig into those fears and believes. Because I think you owe this to your future self!