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Bronnie Ware was an Australian nurse who spent most of her career working with elderly patients in their last days of life.

After years of building relationships with people on their death beds, she discovered there were recurring themes that kept coming up as things these people wish they had done differently.

The themes were so consistent, she finally went on to publish a book called The Top Five Regrets of Dying. A lot can be learned from what she writes, but perhaps the most important is that the following five things are all accessible to you and I today.

 

5. “I wish that I had let myself be happier.”


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As she says in her book, many people do not realize that happiness is a choice. They are always focused on what they “need” to be happy and yet, in reality, you need only to allow yourself to be content.


4. “I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.”

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Friendship takes work, but it is so easy to put friendship on the back burner. It always seems like there is something “more important” than spending time with friends.

 

And yet, friendship is where we get to explore who we are and discover things about ourselves that our other relationships cannot reveal.

 

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


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Many of the people that Bronnie worked with not only had trouble expressing their feeling to others (usually for fear of disturbing the peace), but they often developed illness BECAUSE of their inability to express themselves.

 

Feelings of resentment, bitterness, and anger that go unexpressed in healthy ways can quickly lead to problems for the person holding onto them.

 

2. “I wish I hadn't worked so hard.”


 

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This was most common for the men and women who had demanding careers that took them from their families, kept them from keeping their health as a priority, and left them feeling stressed and unhappy.

 

As they reflected, they wished they had spent more time building better relationships, keeping themselves healthy, and not getting so stressed about work.


1. “I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself.”

 

 

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This was the most common of all the regrets. People realized that they spent too much time and energy trying to please others and live up to other people’s expectations.

In reading through these, I think we can all connect with one or more of these feelings of regret. Maybe not that we feel regret now, but that in 20, 40, or 60 years, when all is said and done, we might look back and wish we had acted differently.

 

But that is the lesson that I take from this. These are things I can act on NOW so that I’m able to avoid those feelings later on. And I would say for a lot of people in this area, the Silicon Valley, there are a lot of people that can relate to #5 and #2.

 

We live in an area where people work all the time and are never satisfied (which also means less time for friends). And so, maybe it’s time to slow down a bit, take time for yourself, your friends, and your family, and start thinking about what matters most.


 

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