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Bronnie Ware, a palliative home-care nurse in Australia works with patients who are nearing the end of their lives. In her book, The 5 Top Regrets of the Dying, she shares stories of the patients she is working with. In her interactions with them, she asks them to tell her what they most regret about their lives. One might guess that they would have said things like they regret not being rich or famous, owning big homes or fancy cars. Maybe taking extended, exotic vacations or reaching the pinnacle of their careers or professions.

No, none of these made the list of the 5 top regrets. Instead, Ware found the responses to be quite mundane or ordinary. Here is a list of the responses that were most frequently given.

Nobody wants to reach their deathbed and be riddled with guilt and regrets about what they wished they had done differently. Perhaps we can learn from these honest and forthright disclosures by individuals who were nearing the finish line. I will examine each of the 5 regrets that are listed and comment on their significance. I will discuss why they are important and how we can ensure that we will not have the same regrets. Let's take this opportunity to learn valuable life lessons from what Bronnie Ware has shared in her very worthwhile book.

1. I wish I'd had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me. To live a life true to yourself, you must first know who and what you are. Many clients whom I encounter have told me that they have no idea who they really are, and have no sense of their values or direction in life. What a joy it is to guide these individuals to discover their values, their strengths and their life purpose. Not living your life the way others expect you to is a tall order for someone who is constantly trying to please others. You should not have to apologize for living a life that is truly authentic. Stop living how someone else thinks you should, and become the person you truly are.

2. I wish I hadn't worked so hard. Working long, hard hours robs you of some of the most precious and valuable things in life. Working hard often takes you away from home; it distracts you from your family and friends and others who might really benefit from your presence and attention. “There’s nothing worse than a parent that can be everything to everybody else…except a parent to their own child.” Too much work gets in the way of leading a balanced life.

"Hey Mister

Where you going in such a hurry

Don't you think it's time you realized

There's a whole lot more to life than work and worry

The sweetest things in life are free

And there right before your eyes...

You got to Stop and Smell the roses...."

by Mac Davis

3. I wish I had the courage to express my feelings. Why is it so hard to express

your feelings? There are many reasons for this. First of all, you may not even be aware of what it is that you are actually feeling. Our culture does not place much emphasis on our interior world. Secondly, you may not have the language to express what is going on inside of you. You feel unable to put into words what you are experiencing. Third, you may feel that you are the only one who is having these feelings and are afraid of being misunderstood or even worse, judged for them. It takes a willingness to be vulnerable to say what you're feeling. Ironically, when you are vulnerable, you gain the respect and empathy of others. In order to form deep, meaningful relationships, you must be willing to open yourself up and share from your deepest self.

4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends. Having friends and being a friend brings meaning and richness into our lives. Staying in touch sometimes takes effort. Life can get in the way of making friendship a priority.

If you haven't heard from a friend for a while, don't assume they are rejecting you. Be willing to be the first to reach out. You have no idea what is going on in their lives. In our modern day of instant communication, we have no excuse. A quick text email, and yes, even a phone call can be the glue that's needed to keep your friendships alive. The value of true friends cannot be overestimated. Don't allow yourself to get to the end of your life with this regret.

5. I wish I had let myself be happier.

Happy people don't have the best of everything. They make the best of everything. Happiness is not something you find "out there". It is not a result of reaching certain goals or buying the latest gadgets. According to Sonja Lyubomirsky, in her book The How of Happiness, only 10% of our happiness depends on what happens to us. The other 90% is based on how we

see the world. In other words, it's our attitude to life that determines our level of happiness. An attitude is something that, with practice, can be changed for the better.

IN THE END… We only regret the chances we didn’t take, the relationships we were afraid to have, and the decisions we waited too long to make.” Lewis Carroll

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