A while back, I came across an article titled Top Five Regrets of the Dying, by Bronnie Ware, who worked in palliative care and spent her time with people who were in their final days of life. She asked them what were their biggest regrets in life. The following are the top five:
I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.
How many of you can relate to this? You do some stuff to please other people and before you know it, you've lost yourself. Follow your instincts, follow your dreams, stand firm on what you believe in. It is your life to live, not anybody else's.
I wish I didn’t work so hard.
Apparently, this was what every male patient of Bronnie's said. The traditional role of the male is to provide for the family, but at what cost? Slow down and enjoy life. It goes too fast (I am in no danger of ever working too hard, I'm all about the work to live, not live to work school of thought. It also means that I'll probably be flat-broke for most of my life.).
I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings.
Be honest. Tell people how you feel, whether you feel full of love or whether you're just plain old pissed off. Let it out, don't hold onto anger. Tell that person you love them. You'll regret it if you don't.
I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.
It is so easy to lose touch with people, but what excuse do we have these days? Email, Facebook, text messages, and don't even forget the old fashioned ways of keeping in contact - calling to talk to someone or sending a letter. Time and effort seem to be the hardest part. As Bronnie says, it's not status or money that counts in the end, but love and relationships. That's all when it comes down to it.
I wish I'd let myself be happier.
Bronnie puts this one perfectly: When you are on your deathbed, what others think of you is a long way from your mind. How wonderful to be able to let go and smile again, long before you are dying. Life is a choice. It is YOUR life. Choose consciously, choose wisely, choose honestly. Choose happiness.
Isn't it all perfect advice? Be yourself, enjoy life, say how you feel, cultivate friendships and be happy. It doesn't sound hard at all.
Read Bronnie's article, she says it all better than I do.