The five death bed regrets we can all avoid

The fact is we only get one chance at life. One chance to experience as many things as we possibly can before our short time on this planet ends

Zeta Yarwood

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One of biggest life issues people face is being stuck in a job they don’t enjoy. A job they might have chosen to please others. A job that offered a “socially acceptable” salary or impressive job title. Then they hit their 30’s or 40’s. Their values change and they realize that those things aren’t as important as they once were. But now. it’s too late. They’re stuck wishing they could turn back the clock.

The fact is we only get one chance at life. One chance to experience as many things as we possibly can before our short time on this planet ends. And we have a choice. We either go through life, and take conscious action to fill it with experiences and people that make us happy. Or we let life direct us, and risk getting to 90 years old full of regret of ‘wasted’ time.

Bronnie Ware, a nurse in palliative care, wrote a book called “The Top 5 Regrets of the Dying” based on a series of interviews she conducted with patients in the last 12 weeks of their lives. She found regardless of the person’s sex, age, background, nationality, financial status, there were 5 common themes that surfaced again and again…

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 realize that their life is almost over and look back clearly on it, it is easy to see how many dreams have gone unfulfilled. Most people had not honored even a half of their dreams and had to die knowing that it was due to choices they had made, or not made. Health brings a freedom very few realize, until they no longer have it.”

2. I wish I hadn’t worked so hard.

“This came from every male patient that I nursed. They missed their children’s youth and their partner’s companionship. Women also spoke of this regret, but as most were from an older generation, many of the female patients had not been breadwinners. All of the men I nursed deeply regretted spending so much of their lives on the treadmill of a work existence.”

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.”

4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.

“Often they would not truly realize the full benefits of old friends until their dying weeks and it was not always possible to track them down. Many had become so caught up in their own lives that 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. Everyone misses their friends when they are dying.”

5. I wish that I had let myself be happier.

“This is a surprisingly common one. Many did not realize 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.”

Ask yourself this. When you get to 90 years’ old and you look back on your life. What would you regret not doing most? And what changes can you put in place today to make sure you don’t have that regret later on in life?

“Whenever I hear a newbie say ‘I’ll be here for a few years,’ I smile and think of how exciting these years will be.”