Ever wonder what people in their deathbeds regret the most? Bronnie Ware, a veteran Australian palliative nurse, shared her dying patients’ revelations. What she got was an eye opener. There was no mention of missed ambitions or career-related goals; not even bucket list stuff like climbing the Himalayas, skydiving, wild sex, or anything berserk. Learning the regrets of the dying can give us an insight on what life really is about. It can give us a clearer perspective and a wakeup call to never take for granted the things that truly matter. Here are five of the most common regrets she has had heard from her dying patients.
1.) Not Being True to Yourself
This is the most common regret Bronnie heard from her patients. When people reach their twilight years, it becomes painfully clear how many of their aspirations have gone unfulfilled because the opinions and expectations of others matter too much. Many of them lamented over the many wrong choices that they had made in their youth because they did not stay true to themselves. They realized that most of the decisions they made were almost always influenced by what others think rather than what they truly want.
2.) Spending Too Much Time Working
Many of Bronnie’s male patients regretted so much having spent more than half their lives working. They could only wish they could make up for the lost time and enjoy the companionship of their partners and children. They further spoke of the wasted time they had devoted to their careers, and in the end, none of it even mattered.
In today’s fast paced world, it’s easy to get caught up in material trappings–of career and ambition–that a person tends to forget that it is not the destination that counts but the journey itself. You might as well slow down and re-examine what life truly is about and savor the seemingly small pleasures that life has to offer. Oftentimes, it turns out that these small things are really what make life worth living.
3.) Leaving Things Unsaid
Many people kept their true feelings to themselves just to maintain goodwill with others. These pent-up emotions brought a great deal of stress to the extent that some even wound up suffering from mental illnesses. They stressed that holding back criticism from others may maintain a peaceful coexistence, but this would only yield a false sense of peace. True friendship can withstand the pains of conflict.
4.) Not Staying in Touch with Friends
Many of the dying patients also missed their old childhood friends. Time constraints and other priorities conspired in making them neglect the importance of staying connected with their friends. Before they know it, they already reached the sunset of their life.
5.) Not Letting Yourself Be Happy
Many of Bronnie’s patients added that neglecting the true essence of happiness and the very fact that it is a choice is among the things they wish they’d be given a chance to mend. The comfort of their familiar ways, the fear of change, and the preoccupation on what others think have all led them to put aside their need to have fun and enjoy life as they used to when they were children. In the end, they realized that getting worked up on unnecessary worries and living their lives according to other people’s norms only proved futile.
This dark and morbid narrative is a stark reminder that life is too short to not be true to yourself, to work yourself to the ground, to not saying what you feel, to not hang out with friends, and to not be happy. Life is too short. Go out there and seize it. As Neil Pasrischa would say, “you will never be as young as you are today.”