This world is full of economic, political, social, and global uncertainty. Seems everyone is striving for something, or struggling through something, of laboring to control something. But in the end, does any of it matter? And if not, what does?
Consider this. Bronnie Ware was a palliative care nurse. In her book, The Top Five Regrets of the Dying – A Life Transformed by the Dearly Departing, she wrote, “My patients were those who had gone home to die. I was with them for the last three to twelve weeks of their lives. People grow a lot when they are faced with their own mortality. Each experienced a variety of emotions, as expected, denial, fear, anger, remorse, more denial and eventually acceptance. Every single patient found their peace before they departed though, every one of them.”
Bronnie had the opportunity to ask many of them about any regrets they had or anything they would do differently. “Common themes surfaced again and again,” she said.
Here are the most common five:
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.) “Most people had not honored even a half of their dreams and had to die knowing that it was due to choices they had made, or not made.”
2. I wish I didn’t work so hard. (This came from every male patient that she nursed.) “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 … and 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. “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.”
5. I wish that I had let myself be happier. (This was a surprisingly common one.) “Many did not realize 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.”
Take some time today to ponder this list. Are there some things on here that hit home? They did for me too. Don’t wait til the end to deal with them. We only get one chance at this lifetime. Contrary to popular belief, this life is not about bigger, better, faster. It’s about who you become during the journey. Be true to yourself, don’t work so hard, express your feelings, enjoy friendships, and as often as possible, choose happiness.