Bronnie Ware, an Australian nurse, worked in palliative care for a long period of time. During the last phase of their lives, the patients she was in charge of revealed their regrets. The answers did not include activities that give you an adrenaline rush for an instant like sex or adventure sports, but small things that hold immense value. Ware recorded her observations in her blog, Inspiration and Chai, that caught the attention of many. The epiphanies were later recorded in a book named The Top Five Regrets of the Dying. She observed a common pattern in the regrets of the patients, similar themes that were expressed with a clear vision which one gains at the last phase of their lives.
Here are the most common regrets observed by Ware:
1. Being true to oneself
We live under the burden of societal pressure most of the time. We repress our dreams and desires to fit in the expectations of others. At the end of one’s life, the common regret was to not have had the courage to be true to oneself. These people have lived unfulfilling lives because they never paid much heed to their hearts. They did not choose what would have made them happy and only realized it when it was too late. When they were fit, they never valued the freedom that comes with good health. Only when one no longer has something do they realize its worth.
2. Working too hard
Ware notes how almost all male patients regretted working day and night. Being engrossed in their work, they missed on their family lives. Most of the patients regretted not being there for special occasions like birthday parties of their kids or their own anniversaries. They felt burnt out doing something that did not add any value to their lives. Women too had a similar kind of regret. Many of the women were not bread earners as they belonged to an older generation but spent their lives working extra hard ignoring other aspects of personal life.
3. Expressing feelings
How many of us gulp down our opinions in order to avoid conflicts? How many of us do not say what we feel because we fear being judged? How many of us never express our feelings because we are unsure of the outcome?
Not expressing what one feels is one of the top 5 regrets a person has at the end of their lives. They live a mundane life devoid of possibilities that would come with a little more courage. Being bitter and resenting their lives had a huge impact on their health too. Bottling up one’s feelings is never a good option.
4. Losing friends
On their dying bed, everyone misses their old friends. They regret not investing the time and effort their bosom buddies deserved. People felt sad for all the times they let friendships slip away.
5. Not making happiness a priority
Many of Ware’s patients did not come to terms with the fact that happiness is a choice. They let fear be the driving force in life and comfort the ultimate aim. The patients longed for heartfelt laughter and genuine reasons to be happy.
It is sad how we ignore what is truly important in our lives until we do not have enough time. Go and seize the day!