headstone with born and diedNone of us wants to lie on our deathbed regretting the life we’ve lived.

Could you be setting yourself up for this, without even realizing it?

For many years, Bronnie Ware was a nurse for people who had gone home to die. She spent the last 3 to 12 weeks of their lives with them and heard them speak of their regrets and what they would have done differently. In her article, Regrets of the Dying, Ware writes of:

The 5 regrets she heard most often:

1) I wish I’d had the courage to life a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.

This was the most common regret. People had let their own dreams go unfulfilled. If we don’t honor ourselves and follow at least some of our dreams, we’re likely to regret that.

2) I wish I hadn’t worked so hard.

Every one of Ware’s male patients said this. But so did many women. It’s often been said no one dies wishing they’d spent more time at work. Work can be wonderful, joyous, meaningful, fulfilling, and more – but not if it’s done at the expense of everyone and everything else.

3) I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings.

In order to keep peace, many people suppress their feelings. But if we aren’t in touch with our feelings and don’t speak honestly about them when we need to, we crush ourselves, diminishing the person we are meant to be.

4) I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.

It’s all too easy to lose touch with friends in the midst of our busy lives. But friendships are one of life’s great joys and solaces. Without friends – and the giving and receiving of love that comes with them – we are missing much of what truly matters.

I’d include family here, too. If your family nurtures you and is life-enhancing (which I realize is not always the case), you may regret not staying connected with them.

5) I wish I had let myself be happier.

This seems particularly sad to me. Happiness is an inside job. It’s a choice and sometimes, for some reasons, we don’t make that choice. If we let old patterns and habits as well as the fear of change run our lives rather than finding ways to be happy, we’re apt to regret it.

Pause for just a moment and ask yourself these questions.

Which of these 5 most common regrets has my name on it?

Is there something else in the way I’m living that I’ll regret at the end of my life?

What can I change in my life now so that I will have no regrets?

It is your life. Live it well, whatever that may mean for you.