I read this article called the Regrets of the Dying recently that is based on the book The Top Five Regrets of the Dying by Bronnie Ware. The book is about what Bronnie learned as a hospice nurse and how regret was commonly a theme in so many’s last days. The article is a shortened version of the book, basically hitting the five points in a condensed version. Even in shorter form, it can feel a little heavy because the focus is on a reality we all like to avoid, death (which is kind of the point of the whole article/book).
We skim through life, living, acting, pretending that tomorrow is guaranteed. We tend to put our eggs in a lot of irrelevant baskets. We place importance on petty things like money, appearances, or “likes” on social media instead of harvesting a life that leaves a positive footprint and happy memories (because we always have tomorrow right?). Unfortunately, it seems this realization often occurs when most of life has passed us by (hindsight is 20/20, especially when writing our autobiography). That’s why this article/book is such a gift, because it allows us some introspection through others who missed their chance on such insight.
I wanted to quickly share the top five regrets (just in case you can relate to #2 and don’t have time to read the article or book)
1. I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.
I would assume this hits home for a lot of people. You want your parents to be proud of you, you want your spouse to be proud of you, your friends, co-workers, society, etc, so you continue to drive yourself to do what you think will get the job done. How often do we stop and say, do I want this for myself?
2. I wish I hadn’t worked so hard.
I have seen the results of children whose parents worked all the time, were/are never home, it’s tragic. I have also seen the outcome of marriages of people who put work/money first. Witnessed adults who are so burnt out from “life,” because they realize they were never living. What is the end game here? There will always be more work to do. Hop off the hamster wheel and stop living to work, work to live.
3. I wish I had the courage to express my feelings.
I saw a quote that said something like, “she had bite marks on her tongue from never speaking her mind.” I think there is a balance here. You can’t just shoot off every thought you have, but I do think you can form your thoughts into meaningful conversations (sometimes hard conversations) to express thoughts, feelings, or concerns. No one ever wants to upset someone they love and many people don’t want to say how they feel because they think it might rock the boat, but it isn’t living a true life otherwise. If you never say how you really feel, how many people really get the chance to know the real you. Don’t miss the chance to tell someone how you really feel.
4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.
This is so relevant for where I am in life right now. Most of my friends have spouses, kids, jobs, the list goes on for days. So time is so incredibly tight. It’s hard to make friends a priority when you get older because your calendars are already crammed with work, kids activities, and doctors appointments.
I hear a lot,” ok, let’s actually do this this time” (I’ve 100% said this before). Plans with friends get broken, put off, and forgotten about all the time. Thinking about adding one more to-do on our check lists can seem overwhelming, but what’s even more overwhelming is going to pick up the phone to call a friend and their is no one to call.
5. I wish that I had let myself be happier.
This is probably the most relevant for me. I think, in this day and age, with everyone wanting be richer, younger, skinnier, we lose so much time being unsatisfied. This is the case of “If only I had _____, I’d be happy.” We all know it isn’t true. I see people who continue to pile their lives with new cars, more babies, pets, bigger houses, fancier jewelry, whatever, but the excitement is only temporary. Trust me, I’m not judging, because I struggle with this the most. This is why I started writing paperyrain, because life is full of happiness, and I wanted to remind myself of that. We tend to miss the chance to be happy while we are trying to find more stuff that will make us happier; how messed up is that?
Regret is a disease. Sometimes we wait too long to deal with it and it consumes our lives, but it doesn’t have to end that way. We have to stop worrying about what someone will think; stop worrying about the what ifs; stop putting our focus on a superficial life. We need to start living, start stock piling memories and happy times.
We need to:
Do Everything, Regret Nothing.