A recent article on The Guardian website offers a clarifying view of life through the lens of death. In fact, it may put missing that post-work workout to spend time with friends and family on your To Do list.
The article centres on Bronnie Ware’s book The Top Five Regrets of the Dying. Ware, an Australian nurse who worked in palliative care, first compiled the top five regrets of the terminally ill people she helped care for in the form of a blog called Inspiration and Chai. The blog became so popular, however, that she decided to put her observations and anecdotes together in book form.
Aside from the personal stories of each person she cared for, Ware was apparently struck by how many people in their last remaining days and hours shared similar regrets. More importantly, these feelings centered on quality of life and relationship issues.
What was the top regret of those living out their last days? According to Ware’s book, it was “I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.”
Ware calls this regret the most “common of all”.
The Guardian offers this excerpt from Ware: “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.”
The second most popular regret: “I wish I hadn’t worked so hard.” The third was “I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings.” Fourth was “I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.”
The fifth most common regret according to Ware was “I wish that I had let myself be happier.”
To seek courage, compassion for oneself, loving relationships and to not get in the way of our own happiness—for those who remain it sounds like a pretty compelling series of personal goals.