“I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not a life others expected of me”
Taken from “The Top Five Regrets Of The Dying”
By Bronnie Ware
Death is one of life’s great taboos.
Ironic then, isn’t it, that Bronnie Ware’s book, inspired by the most common regrets of her dying patients, has sold the wide world over – in no less than 27 languages.
Equally ironic is the conversation stopping effect death has in life when Ware’s findings reveal that death is, in fact, the greatest invigorator out there. Bypassing ego, image and obligation, death sieves through bullshit and cuts straight to point – distilling truth in its purest form.
Five core truths, in fact – which level us all.
And that, Dear Reader, is what many of us are too busy to realise day to day – what really matters in life – and that’s what makes Ware’s book so powerful.
If that all sounds a bit on the heavy side, check out the top five regrets of the dying below observed by Bronnie Ware during her palliative nursing and prepare to feel a whole lot lighter:
1. I wish I had 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 realise 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 honoured 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 realise, until they no longer have it.”
2. I wish I had not 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 had 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 realise 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 realise 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.”
For as Steve Jobs, the man who ‘had it all’, warned:
“At this moment, lying on the sick bed and recalling my whole life, I realize that all the recognition and wealth that I took so much pride in, have paled and become meaningless”.
If you think you’re too busy to consider the above, all the more reason to do so.
For as the Dalai Lama so wisely reflected when asked what surprised him most about humanity:
“Man. Because he sacrifices his health in order to make money. Then he sacrifices money to recuperate his health”.