Death is the one thing that we can all be certain of, whether you’re a king or a peasant, the president of the United States or a homeless person living in an underpass of Los Angeles, it does not matter. It is the one true equalizer. So much so that many people have spent their entire lives trying to figure out ways to stop the inevitable; it’s the reason we have modern medicine, and why we poor tons of funding into cancer research. But on that special day when we pass over to the other side, one might find that they’d wish they had done things differently. And who better than to know what these things are than a person who spends everyday of her life around those who are on their way out.
Bronnie Ware was a palliative care nurse for years, catering to patients that had death looming above them. She helped them to be as comfortable as possible, as well as listened to their stories, their insights, and their regrets.
These are the top five regrets that she has noted in her blog, “Inspiration and Chai.”
1. “I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.”
Bronnie found that this was the most common regret of all. While it’s easy to look back on your life at the end of it and know which things you wish you had or had not done, she found that most people had not honored even half of their dreams, and they would die knowing it was due to their choices, and that health brings a freedom that is seldom recognized until it is too late.
2. “I wish I hadn’t worked so hard.”
3. “I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings.”
Bronnie notes that many people kept their feelings and emotions suppressed in order to keep the peace with others or to avoid confrontation. Because of this they led a mediocre existence and never became the person they had the potential of becoming.
4. “I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.”
Never let life get in the way of reconnecting with the people you care about. Bronnie says, “everyone misses their friends when they are dying.”
5. “I wish that I had let myself be happier.”
You should be focused on waking up joyful every day of your life, and if you’re not doing that, you need to change something. Bronnie was surprised to find that this was a common one, that many did not realize until it was too late that happiness was a choice. Many had become stagnant, stuck in their ways and habits, a comfort that overtook their emotions and physical lives. Fear of change had them pretending that they were content, even when they were longing to laugh and have joy in their lives again.