How to live without regrets
Lessons from the dying to change your life today
My wife found a brilliant article last week. She knew it contained the kind potentially of life-altering, life enriching stuff I thrive on reading and sharing. So here it is. Some of this information here is reprinted here from the Guardian (link provided below) which references the blog of Bronnie Ware. Bronnie Ware is an Australian nurse who spent several years working in palliative care, caring for patients in the last 12 weeks of their lives. What she learned from her patients view of life as they looked death square in the eye is enlightening for all of us.
What is shared here can be of immense value to you – truly life changing and in a way, life saving. Once you have read this, think it through and it should deeply inspire you to make profound changes in a new direction I believe some golden keys of personal development, which can help us live the best possible - without all the clutter we think we need, but actually don’t, is contained within Bronnie Ware’s experience, so please read on, learn and apply:
Here are the top five regrets of the dying, as witnessed by Ware:
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 dying.”
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.
So what can you learn from this?
The best way I think I can help you unpack this is by sharing how this has helped me since I read it. Bronnie Ware’s work gives us the things YOU will consider when you face death. There will more, but these scored the top five considerations in how the dying weigh up whether their lives have been good. So as to prevent regret and ensure you live the kind of life that will be motivating, inspiring, joyful and beautiful to look back upon, let us rise and meet each one of these aspects of regret. And look- how much money you will have earned doesn’t get a look in. Honestly, it seems money really isn’t that important.
You have a dream. Are you being bold enough to ensure you have a chance of achieving it? Are you ‘having a go?’ Be honest with yourself. Me: I aim to be a brilliant communicator to help people all over the world release their God given potential. To do that I need to be a great writer, an excellent speaker, and I need to step out and speak often. So to ensure I don’t have regrets here at the end of my days I now know what I must do. It won’t be easy. It will stretch me to my limits and there will be easy alternatives along the way, but I don’t want to go where they may take me. Your turn. Where do you want to go? Where do you need to step up and step out? Where have you been too lazy or just a little too scared of doing what needs to be done? Now you know choose to tackle it head on. Shine, and be proud of yourself by feeling the fear and doing it anyway. Does that sound glib? Really, its not! At the end of your days, this will really matter.
It pays the bills and may be fulfilling in many ways. But let’s put it in perspective. Work is not an end of days measure of your life-success, the evidence is here! Work is a part of the journey, but that’s all – and I mean that even whether you are the head of Unicef, President of the United States, or a toilet cleaner at Asda. You will one day, at that most important of times, measure your life in terms of how much time you spent on your loved ones, (yes, even the ones you didn’t much care for once). Work is fine and helps us achieve a lot, and can give us purpose. But don’t let it become your sole mission in life, because it turns out that LOVE is your key mission in this life. It is all our missions, if only we could realise it. Now you can!
This is about relationships and being authentic – about being the real you! Do not go to the grave having lived pretending to be happy when you weren’t. What will make you happy? Did you know you can choose to be happy? Equally do not go gently into that good night having not expressed who you truly are for the sake of an easy life. An easy life will not be easy at the end – when you review all the amazing feelings, experiences and joys you could have missed by not becoming who you were meant to be. After reading Bronnie’s information, I had a phone call with someone who perpetually winds me up. This person is someone I cannot remove from my life, a cross between business and obligation. This person is rude without knowing it. He is blunt and thinks he isn’t. I had put up with this for a long time, but with the regrets of the dying in mind I let him know what I thought of his communication style and our relationship. I smoothed things out after this, because I also don’t want to live with grudges – but it is essential we are authentic to who we are and what we feel. To bury feelings, dreams, or hopes is a kind of suicide. Life is too short and precious for anything else. Tell someone you love them. Tell someone you are sorry, Tell them you are hurting, before it’s too late.
Staying In Touch With Friends
I have fallen foul of this problem. I let my mistakes and past shames get in the way of relationships, letting them drop because of my own insecurities. Some were brilliant people who I miss to this day. I would love to get in touch and make amends, even if it is only through Facebook to start with. If these people do not want my approaches (I have no idea if they will or not) then I will have lost nothing in trying. But if at the end of my days I haven’t bothered, then I will be rightly sad. Take a risk! Spend some time on righting wrongs and by saying hello! These past friends of yours have been passengers on the same strange and wonderful journey as you. Send them some good wishes, apologies if you have to, and show some love. Reading all of these regrets so far and what is the most common theme? The common factor is not giving, sharing, showing enough love through the years of life.
Allowing yourself to be happy…
…now, today, tomorrow, for the rest of your days! At the end of your time on earth, you will see life for how it is. You will know that happiness is in your hands and had been all along! So here it is again – You have full responsibility for following your heart and choosing what makes you happy – whether it is a change of career, home, lifestyle or whatever is needed. If we postpone happiness to some future point (when I get my pay-rise, when the kids have grown up, when I get my pension, etc, etc) we are missing the joy available when he live in the here and now, and understand that happiness is in making those important choices now and acting on them. As we said above, don’t let fear make you stop making changes you know are vital. Fear is an illusory feeling, it flees when we challenge it. Allow yourself to experience the freedom and responsibility you really have, and you can be silly, foolish, impetuous and as active as a child all the way through your days.
For me, I know that I need to pursue my life mission against all the temptations of fear. These are the illusion of security (safe employment, easy living, and creature comforts) in order to experience what my life mission offers me. My life mission offers me the fulfilment of overcoming, the joy of liberty through creative living, and the freedom not to ever pretend to be something I am not. There is so much liberty and joy and happiness available to all of us when we choose this way.
Be yourself. Set yourself free. Go for your dream. Laugh more. Speak to old friends and family. Love more simply by choosing to do it. Express yourself and live to the very fullest, and you will never have regrets. You will have joy.
You will have the life you deserve.
No regrets. Here’s to a joyful life.
Guardian article link