A hospice nurse called Bronnie Ware made a list of the biggest regrets of the dying. It is a truly great list, I am still young but looking at the list, I can see where I excel and where I fall short.
1. I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me. –> I do a good job of, “Doing what I want.”
2. I wish I didn’t work so hard. –> If you love the work you do is this a bad thing? I do not see working hard as a bad thing unless there is a negative impact on other parts of your life.
3. I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings. –> A true struggle for me, not so much on the courage but on how to express or more to the point on understanding the feelings of others. It is something I work on everyday.
4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends. –> I live far from most of my close friends, and while I we try to stay in contact we and I could certainly do a better job.
5. I wish that I had let myself be happier. –> I believe that I am constantly happy, I am easy to please.
If you take the top-5 and boil them down, the best single piece of advice, might be: don’t be a cog. The top-5 regrets create a person that shrinks themself down to what they think others want and continues on a path dictated by others until they die.
The alarming issue with the regrets is. that the mistakes are simply by omission. It is things we forget about. We forgot to spend more time with our family, forgot to follow our dreams, we neglected those around and all at what cost? Dying unhappy. These people forgot to be happy.
I would like to avoid making these mistakes. But how do you avoid mistakes when you are unaware that you are making them? I/we would have to work to focus on changing the behaviors that dictate our lives. Change our habits and look to change how we react to the world. But it may not be possible to do that completely. You can however turn her top-5 regrets into commands :
Don’t ignore your dreams; don’t work too much; say what you think; cultivate friendships; be happy.