“No regrets.” This phrase gets tossed around freely, both seriously and jokingly. The reality is, we’re all human, and will probably reach the end of our lives having felt regret at least a handful of times. We do, however, have some choice in the type of regret we feel, and how much of our life is colored by it in the end.
The regret of frosted tips or a puka shell necklace will likely not matter to us at the end of our lives, where regrets about not honoring our values, or prioritizing the wrong things probably will. Thankfully, we can learn from those who have gone before us as we become more mindful of how to make the most of our lives.
Palliative care nurse Bronnie Ware noticed some themes in her time caring for patients at the end of their lives and compiled the most common regrets she witnessed people grappling with in her book entitled, The Top Five Regrets of the Dying: A Life Transformed by the Dearly Departing. Her list is as follows:
1. I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others 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 that I had let myself be happier.
Something I notice when I read these regrets is that they all tie back to vulnerability, authenticity, connection, and ultimately, presence. Take a moment to check in with Ware’s list of regrets, yourself, and how your life is playing out thus far.
Are you being authentically yourself? Do you know how to express your feelings–and do you do that? Who is your support system, the people you are able to be real with? Are you happy? There may also be regrets you have so far in your own life. If so, how do you want to respond moving forward?
Fortunately, we still have time to change, and time to hone in on what is important, and we don’t have to do it alone. At GROW, we would love to come alongside of you as you do the work to minimize regret by becoming a more authentic, connected, present person.
Written by: Courtney Hintermeyer