Top five regrets of the dying

Regret is a loaded word and an even more loaded emotion – which makes it all so powerful. All of us have some (and I wouldn’t trust a person who says he doesn’t) – and the way we deal with regrets can either wreck havoc or be a learning experience.

The now famous Top 5 regrets of the dying is a recollection by Bronnie Ware, a nurse who looked after people with terminal illness. There is nothing about money or power or posessions in those epiphanies – they are all about how we feel about ourselves and others when there is nothing left to gain or lose. And the number one regret –  not living a life true to yourself, instead of what others expect of you. Subject of so many books and articles, and yet it seems so difficult to put into practice… Working too much, not having the courage to express feelings, not staying in touch with friends and not letting yourself be happier top the list as well.

Interestingly enough, 4 out of 5 are on not doing something – which reminded me of the famous quote by Lucille Ball that I adopted as my manifesto: “I’d rather regret the things I’ve done than regret the things I haven’t.”

It started me thinking – these top five regrets make a really good barometer of our lives. If we take time out once a year to reflect on where we are and why we do what we do, with these criteria in mind  – perhaps we all could be a bit happier and more mindful. And have the time to act on those regrets before it’s too late…

(and here is an added bonus on the same theme but in reverse – a 72-year long study on What makes us happy)