Have you ever wondered what people regret the most, when they are fully aware of their own upcoming mortality?
Sometimes, the monotony of everyday life can redirect us from the bigger, more meaningful purposes of our time here. For that reason, it is important to periodically remind ourselves of our truest values and desires and to make sure that we are living according to them.
Ultimately, we will leave this earth with one of two feelings: satisfaction or regret. And while we are alive and able, we should be doing everything in our power to walk away fulfilled.
I should preface this piece by saying that we are often quick to judge our past selves because we forget the details of our lives at those points that led us to make the decisions we did. We assume that we were naive and perhaps stupid, but the truth, in all likelihood, is that we did the best we could given our circumstances.
For this reason, we should not judge our former selves, but we should still strive to make the most of our lives given everything we do know now.
Bronnie Ware, an Australian nurse who spent several years treating patients in hospice care, recorded the realizations many of her patients came to when they were in their final days of life. A selection of them, along with other popular regrets, are listed below.
I wish I had just put my all into things
Many of us are so paralyzed by the fear of not “doing things right” or not achieving our goals in a timely manner that we just… never get started on them. The truth is, there is no simple path or shortcut to our dreams. There are always going to be twists and turns, so the worst thing we can do is sit around actionlessly, wondering what could have been if we had just given things our all.
I wish I had spent more time with family
Although working towards accomplishing what we are passionate about is incredibly important, we must not let our ambition blind us from spending time with those who matter most. A lot people in their final stages of life just wish they had just budgeted more time for their friends and families.
I wish I had spoken my mind more often
Life is truly too short to spend inauthentically. We should always be striving to project the truest versions of ourselves out into the world, because lying to ourselves about who we are or failing to defend or values can leave us feeling very desolate indeed.
I wish I had let myself be happier
Happiness is ultimately a choice that we either allow ourselves to make or not. Often, our circumstances have very little to do with our attitudes—we can have everything and still feel empty inside, or have nothing and still feel incredibly wealthy from within.
Many people, in their final days, just wish that they had given themselves permission to be happy more often. Regardless of the circumstances.