Top 5 Regrets By Those Dying
Guest article by Andrew Rinehart from AndrewRinehart.us
I’ve recently become fascinated with a question, “What has been your biggest regret in life”? I find myself asking this question to just about everyone I run in to, the most interesting answers coming from those 40 years or older. The answers vary greatly but most often include comments about their family or career decisions. Usually, they regret a mistake they made, one they believe to have been life altering. It’s always interesting to hear their responses regardless of the answer however, I learn something new from each person I ask. It constantly cements my belief that small decisions in life make huge differences.
I came across an article some time ago by Bonnie Ware that listed, by number of times mentioned, the top 5 things dying patients say they regret most in life. It impacted me in a great way. Their answers are insightful and can assist anyone interested in living a fuller life.
1. I wish I’d had the courage to live a life truer to myself, not the life others expected of me.
This was by far the most commonly mentioned regret. As people are dying, they realize all of the dreams and hopes that have gone unfulfilled, mostly because they lived their lives, at least in part, trying to please others.
2. I wish I didn’t work so hard.
This was mentioned by every single male patient interviewed. Women also mentioned working too hard as a deep regret.
3. I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings better.
Most people suppress their feeling in order to keep peace with others. In fact, several had developed illnesses relating to the bitterness and resentment they carried as a result. Often times, we’ll settle for mediocre results in life because we don’t have the courage to express / communicate what we really feel. Love someone? Tell them today.
4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends more.
Most dying patients don’t realize how valuable good friends are until their last weeks on earth. We become so caught up in our own lives that we often let golden friendships die.
5. I wish that I had let myself be happier.
This one surprised me slightly at first but then became deeply profound in my life. I believe this regret comes from the eventual realization that we truly are on this earth to experience happiness. It’s time to start letting yourself be exactly that. Most importantly, realizing that happiness is a choice unlocks a new world.
I’ve begun to ask myself several questions each day. They have helped me accomplish a lot of my dreams at a young age. Perhaps these questions can help you accomplish yours.
What would you do today if you knew you couldn’t fail? *You should go out and do it.
In very literal terms, what would you do this week if you knew you were dying in the following week? *You should do it.
What is the absolute worst thing that could come from making this decision? If you fail, how will your life be different in a week, a month or several years? *Hint, It’s usually not nearly as bad as you think and more often than not, your life won’t be affected nearly as badly as you fear. Act.
Ask yourself the above questions daily and each time you are faced with a difficult decision. Remember, it’s easy to look back and realize which decisions you regret. It’s much more difficult to recognize the consequences of things you never even tried.
When an author asked Warren Buffett what his biggest regret was, he said “it isn’t the things that we did that turned out to be bad that I regret, it’s the things that we never tried and the results that we’ll never know about”.
So the question stands, what can you do today, RIGHT NOW, so that you won’t have regrets later? It’s time to act.
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