“Live Full, Die Empty” (Les Brown)
Will you have any regrets on your deathbed? It’s a morbid topic, we know, but . . . it can help form our decisions on how we live our lives right now!
The Top Five Regrets of the Dying
Republished on BoomersNextStep with the express permission of the authors, Greg and Fiona Scott.
We’ve just come across a book ‘The Top Five Regrets of the Dying’ by an Aussie author, Bronnie Ware. Bronnie worked in palliative care for many years, and got to be with patients in the last three to twelve weeks of their lives.
From her interactions with her patients, she found that in the twilight of their lives they shared FIVE COMMON REGRETS.
“When questioned about any regrets they had or anything they would do differently, common themes surfaced again and again.”
These are the most common five regrets:
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. When people realise their life is almost over and look back clearly on it, it’s easy to see how many dreams have gone unfulfilled.
Most people had not honoured even a half of their dreams and had to die knowing that it was due to choices they had made, or not made.
From the moment you lose your health, it’s too late. Health brings a freedom very few realise until they no longer have it (which is why we make time to exercise every day).
2. I wish I didn’t work so hard
This came from every male patient Bronnie nursed. They missed their children’s youth and their partner’s companionship. They deeply regretted spending so much of their lives on the treadmill of a work existence.
By creating more space in your life, you become happier and more open to new opportunities, ones more suited to your new lifestyle.
(We’ve both been a victim of this in the past, but . . . now we’re building an online business, creating passive income, working where and when we please . . . means we know longer have this regret)
3. I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings
Many people suppressed their feelings in order to keep peace with others. As a result, they settled for a mediocre existence and never became who they were truly capable of becoming. Many developed illnesses relating to the bitterness and resentment they carried as a result. (There’s a lot been said about Steve Jobs on this topic!).
We cannot control the reactions of others. However, although people may initially react when you change the way you are by speaking honestly, in the end it raises the relationship to a whole new and healthier level.
Either that or it releases the unhealthy relationship from your life. Either way, you win.
4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends
Often they would not truly realise the full benefits of old friends until their dying weeks and it was too late to track them down. Many had become so caught up in their own lives 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.
It’s common for anyone in a busy lifestyle to let friendships slip. But when you are faced with your approaching death, the physical details of life fall away. People do want to get their financial affairs in order if possible. But it’s not money or status that holds the true importance for them. They want to get things in order more for the benefit of those they love.
That is all that remains in the final weeks, love and relationships.
(We’re so blessed we can work together, travel to see friends, and have time to make new friends too)
5. I wish that I had let myself be happier
This is a surprisingly common one. Many did not realise 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.
“When you’re on your deathbed, what others think of you is a long way from your mind.
How wonderful to be able to let go and smile again, long before you are dying.
Life is a choice. It’s YOUR life. Choose consciously, choose wisely, choose honestly. Choose happiness.” – Bronnie Ware, author of the book ‘The Top Five Regrets of the Dying’
Have a look also at her TED Talk, included below.
This article raises important questions and makes us examine our own lives.
- Are you living an authentic life being true to yourself?
- Is work dominating your life, to the exclusion of other important aspects of life?
- Are you continually growing and becoming all you can be?
- Do you appreciate the love and friendship in your life?
- Have you chosen to be happy?
- Could a change in your life and lifestyle allow you to live a more authentic and happier life?
Thankfully, tomorrow is a fresh start.
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