Bronnie Ware is a nurse from Australia. For a few years she spend 3-12 weeks with people who knew they were about to die. She talked to them a lot, in order to ease their pain and prepare them for inevitable death.
It turns out that people mature tremendously when they face their mortality. They become clear and certain about what really matters in life. Patients felt variety of emotions, such as anger, fear, acceptance or denial.
As Bronnie says “Every patient found peace before death, each and every one of them.”
She wrote a book based on these talks entitled “The Top Five Regrets of The Dying”. The book consists five most popular subjects which were answers to the question “What would you do differently in your life?”.
These are five top regretted things:
1. I wish I had had more courage to live my life, instead of living to people’s expectations
It’s incredible how many people live up to someone’s expectations, neglecting their own needs and desires. Don’t give up the power over your life. You are the only captain on the ship you sail. You are the most important person in your life and it is significant for you to make decisions regarding all your needs.
2. I wish I had worked less
Basically, every male patient said that. Work and money are of course two most important things when you want to survive somehow. But there are many other ways in order to simplify your life (to live for less money) or to work more efficiently (to earn more money).
3. I wish I had expressed my feelings
Hiding your emotions is a road full of compromises. It keeps you from living your life to the fullest. We pretend someone that we are not and suppress things we truly feel. It causes inner conflicts and emotional blocks. Being honest with yourself and with others is the best way to lead happier and better life.
4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends
That point is strongly linked to point no.2 - by not having time for your friends, you neglect your relations with people. It’s easy to forget about them, but it’s hard to renew them. Spend more time on nurturing relations and caring for being close to people with whom you feel good.
5. I wish I had let myself be happy
On a deathbed people realize that happiness is a choice. We often foreclose ourselves to be happy mainly by having too many and too high expectations about how we should live and how this life should look like.
Besides these five points, it is worth noticing that Bronnie Ware never heard this:
- I wish I had more money
- I wish I had been more famous
- I wish I had laid more women/men
- I wish I had made a bigger career
Values in modern world are just different. Let that article be your road-sign so you wouldn’t have to regret so many things before dying. I want to end it with something Steve Jobs once said:
“Remembering that I'll be dead soon is the most important tool I've ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life.
Almost everything--all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure--these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important.
Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.”