While reading a blog post by Paulo Coelho I came across an article written by Bronnie Ware. She works in Palliative Care helping patients that have gone home to die. During the last three to twelve weeks of their lives she found common threads surfaced when questioned about any regrets they had in their lives or things they would do differently. Here is synopsis of what Bronnie wrote.
The most common five Regrets:
1. I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.
When people realize 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 to die knowing that it was due to choices they had made, or not made.
From the moment that you lose your health, it is too late. Health brings a freedom very few realize, until they no longer have it.
2. I wish I didn’t work so hard.
This came from every male patient that I nursed. 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 realize 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 realize 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.
Here is what Bronnie learned:
- It is very important to try and honor at least some of your dreams along the way.
- By simplifying your lifestyle and making conscious choices along the way, it is possible to not need the income that you think you do. And by creating more space in your life, you become happier and more open to new opportunities, ones more suited to your new lifestyle.
- We cannot control the reactions of others. However, although people may initially react when you change the way you are by speaking honestly, in the end it raises the relationship to a whole new and healthier level. Either that or it releases the unhealthy relationship from your life. Either way, you win.
- It is common for anyone in a busy lifestyle to let friendships slip. But when you are faced with your approaching death, the physical details of life fall away. It is all comes down to love and relationships in the end. That is all that remains in the final weeks, love and relationships.
- When you are on your deathbed, what others think of you is a long way from your mind.
- Life is a choice. It is YOUR life. Choose consciously, choose wisely, and choose honestly. Choose happiness.
To read the full article, click here.