When you’re about to leave this mortal coil, you want to have a sense of peace.
To feel you’ve lived a good life, whatever you believe that to be. To look back and have no regrets.
Presumably we all feel this way, yet many people seem to harbor the same concerns as they approach their last days.
Here are the common themes she recorded, and some suggestions for preventing each regret in your own life:
1. Be True To Yourself, Not To Others’ Expectations
‘I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.’
It’s interesting that this was the most common regret – clearly it’s a major issue for many of us.
Knowing this, we can be aware of the importance of listening to the little voice inside us, of turning up the volume on our deepest self.
Whether the voice is telling us something about what we should do with our lives, or who we should spend time with, or how we should live, we need to be brave enough to hear it – and act on it.
2. Don’t Work Too Hard
‘I wish I hadn’t worked so hard.’
Of course work can be a source of fulfillment and joy – not to mention a way to support our lives.
But to avoid regrets, we need to make sure work is not at the expense of relationships, experiences and other meaningful memories.
We need to make work only a part of a fuller, richer life.
3. Express Your Feelings
‘I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings.’
There is a balance between keeping the peace and speaking up for yourself. Not an easy balance to find, but one worth striving for.
And the commonness of this regret suggests that for many people, the balance might lie a little further toward the express-yourself end of the spectrum.
Perhaps flexing our courage muscles more often and saying how we feel will spare us later remorse.
4. Keep Up With Your Friends
‘I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.’
With limited time and energy, it pays to think about the people who matter most in your life, and to make the effort to keep up with them.
Life can get filled up with acquaintances and colleagues, leaving little room for the people we call friends.
We have to consciously and deliberately make time for the people we care about.
5. Choose To Be Happy
‘I wish that I had let myself be happier.’
So many people wait for happiness to find them. Ware says the people she nursed didn’t realize “until the end that happiness is a choice. They had stayed stuck in old patterns and habits.”
To avoid this sad regret, we have let ourselves do the things that make us happy.
What Will You Regret?
Do any of these regrets strike a chord for you?
Perhaps you can save yourself later anguish by thinking about what you can do differently in your own life, how you can change things.
While there’s still time.