If you have not taken the time to read Bronnie Ware’s book Top Five Regrets of the Dying, or at least her essay by the same name, take some time to do so. As a palliative care nurse, Bronnie spent more of her life listening first hand to the final regrets of terminal patients than most people could likely stomach. However, in her book, she relays the most important messages you could receive from these patients, no matter what stage of life you are currently in. Have you made the mistakes below already? Well, good news for you, you have time to fix them. Are you still to young to regret anything except how much you drank last Friday? Don’t make these mistakes. Beware the below:
1. I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life other’s expected of me.
2. I wish I hadn’t worked so hard.
3. I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings.
4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.
5. I wish I had let myself be happier.
At least one of these should resonate with you if you spend just thirty seconds considering them. If none of them do, then feel free to go back to your perfect life and leave the rest of us to commiserate. Number one and number two hit me like a ton of bricks. People who literally have nothing to lose and no reason to lie, expressed pain and regret regarding two things fundamental to American life and culture: fitting in and making money. If that doesn’t scare you, it should.
If you have ever worked in a corporate environment, then you have likely thought about at least one of these top five regrets. If you’ve turned down something that fascinates because it is not “stable” enough, or because it doesn’t make enough money, then you should be scowling down at #1. Almost everyone in America can catch feels for #2. Does that mean that if you are not “following your passions” for eight hours a day then all is lost? Of course not.
But take a look at these regrets and do some soul searching. Are you doing something everyday that you love? If you hate your 9 to 5, are you doing anything to make that job unnecessary? When you do something simply because you’re expected to, and it stabs you a little deeper each time, are you taking any steps to shed that mask? We all go through life thinking how far away death is, or how much time to have to eventually chase what we want to do, or live the life we want to live, or travel to that country we want to see. But as Bronnie Ware found out, most people carry those desires around with them their entire lives and eventually run out of that most precious resource – time.