How To Avoid Regret
As a palliative care nurse, Bronnie Ware, spent time at the bedsides of patients who went home to die. In the last days of their existence, many shared with her their regrets and things they would do differently. The top 5 are excerpted here:
The Most Common 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. Most people did not honor even half their dreams and died knowing they made the wrong choices. On your deathbed, what others think of you is far from your thoughts. You’ll never be younger than you are NOW, and health brings freedom few realize until the moment you lose it … and it’s too late.
2. I wish I didn’t work so hard.
Every male patient said this (women did too but most were from an earlier generation where fewer worked). They missed their children’s youth and their partner’s companionship. And deeply regretted spending so much of their lives on the hamster wheel. We all have to work, but try to reframe the whole notion by replacing the word work with productivity, so that you put more value on achieving other things critical to your self actualization.
3. I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings.
Many suppressed their feelings to keep peace with others. And many developed illnesses relating to the bitterness and resentment they carried inside. Honesty raises any relationship to a new and healthier level. Or it releases the unhealthy relationship from your life. Just say it! Either way, you win.
4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.
Everyone misses their friends when they are dying. Yet, many had become so caught up in their own lives that they’d let golden friendships slip by over the years. One of the few truly irreplaceable things in life is a person with whom you share decades of history. Someone who knew you back when. Who knows where the bodies are buried. Money and status fade to nothing as it ALL COMES DOWN TO LOVE and relationships in the end.
5. I wish I had let myself be happier.
So many did not realize until the end that HAPPINESS IS A CHOICE. Fear of change had them pretend to others, and to themselves, that they were content. Deep within, they longed for more laughter and silliness. Victor Hugo said, “Laughter is the sun that drives winter from the human face.” Lighten up, bitches!
Generous as a Field of Apples, acrylic on a J Crew cotton shirt, 6.5″x8″, 2002, Stuart Sheldon