Bronnie Ware is an Australian nurse who worked with dying patients. She kept notes of their insights as they approached death and made this list of the top 5 things people would have done differently if they had a second chance, along with her reflections on what they had said:
1. I wish I’d 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 hadn’t 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’d 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
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.”
Thanks to Dennis Chapman for sending.