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The Top 5 Regrets In Life By Those About to Die

Joel Brown (Founder of Addicted2Success.com)

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regrets in life


To all my readers out there, sorry to bring down the mood on this one, but I believe this post you are about to read will be a life changing article in the way that you see your life and how you are living it at the moment. This article is written by Bronnie Ware, a palliative care worker who has worked with a countless number of patients who are sadly seeing their last days on earth. When Bronnie had questioned the patients about any regrets they had or anything they would do differently, common themes surfaced again and again. Here are the most common five:

 

The Top 5 Regrets In Life By Those About To Die

1. I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me
This was the most common regret of all. When people realize that their life is almost over and look back clearly on it, it is easy to see how many dreams have gone unfulfilled. Most people have had not honored even a half of their dreams and had to die knowing that it was due to choices they had made, or not made.

It is very important to try and honor at least some of your dreams along the way.

From the moment that you lose your health, it is too late. Health brings a freedom very few realize, until they no longer have it.

 

2. I wish I didn’t work so hard – This came from every male patient that I nursed. They missed their children’s youth and their partner’s companionship.

Women also spoke of this regret. But as most were from an older generation, many of the female patients had not been breadwinners. All of the men I nursed deeply regretted spending so much of their lives on the treadmill of a work existence.
By simplifying your lifestyle and making conscious choices along the way, it is possible to not need the income that you think you do. And by creating more space in your life, you become happier and more open to new opportunities, ones more suited to your new lifestyle.

 

3. I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings – Many people suppressed their feelings in order to keep peace with others. Many developed illnesses relating to the bitterness and resentment they carried as a result.

As a result, they settled for a mediocre existence and never became who they were truly capable of becoming.

We cannot control the reactions of others. However, although people may initially react when you change the way you are by speaking honestly, in the end it raises the relationship to a whole new and healthier level. Either that or it releases the unhealthy relationship from your life. Either way, you win.

 

4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends – Often they would not truly realize the full benefits of old friends until their dying weeks and it was not always possible to track them down. Many had become so caught up in their own lives that they had let golden friendships slip by over the years. There were many deep regrets about not giving friendships the time and effort that they deserved. Everyone misses their friends when they are dying.

It is common for anyone in a busy lifestyle to let friendships slip. But when you are faced with your approaching death, the physical details of life fall away. People do want to get their financial affairs in order if possible. But it is not money or status that holds the true importance for them. They want to get things in order more for the benefit of those they love. Usually though, they are too ill and weary to ever manage this task. It all comes down to love and relationships in the end. That is all that remains in the final weeks, love and relationships.

 

5. I wish that I had let myself be happier
This is a surprisingly common one.

Many did not realize until the end that happiness is a choice.

They had stayed stuck in old patterns and habits. The so-called ‘comfort’ of familiarity overflowed into their emotions, as well as their physical lives. Fear of change had them pretending to others, and to their selves, that they were content. When deep within, they longed to laugh properly and have silliness in their life again.
When you are on your deathbed, what others think of you is a long way from your mind. How wonderful to be able to let go and smile again, long before you are dying.

Life is a choice. It is YOUR life. Choose consciously, choose wisely, choose honestly. Choose happiness.

 

By Bronnie Ware – Purchase Bronnie Wares full – length book:

 

I am the the Founder of Addicted2Success.com and I am so grateful you're here to be part of this awesome community. I love connecting with people who have a passion for Entrepreneurship, Self Development & Achieving Success. I started this website with the intention of educating and inspiring likeminded people to always strive for success no matter what their circumstances.I'm proud to say through my podcast and through this website we have impacted over 200 million lives in the last 10 years.

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148 Comments

148 Comments

  1. I just couldn’t depart your site before suggesting that I really loved the standard information an individual provide in your guest posts

  2. Tim Denning

    Jan 19, 2016 at 9:36 am

    One of the best article’s I have read on Addicted2Success and no wonder it has so many amazing comments. Thanks Joel!

  3. Subhan Ahmed

    Dec 8, 2015 at 11:54 am

    Goldmine article, the only problem I personally feel that to start off your new life you have to let go from your old life or older version of you, which is much harder because we fear loose all we have if we do so.

    Thanks for writing this article,

  4. Ken Chan

    Jul 8, 2014 at 7:25 am

    Good article:
    When people are about to die, many then realise and become enlightened to what his life was all about. If only we take this enlightened step 30-40 years earlier then we and the rest of the world would be a better place. We as an entity, are similar to a child’s soap bubble floating and everything we feel, do, dream, how we live our life etc..etc..are within that bubble called the self. Therefore one ought to live well, fill it with happiness, kindness and compassion, sharing good things. When that bubble burst, we are no more, in fact, there will be no ‘we or I’ at all, and consciousness as we know it does not exist any more for the ‘I’, only a carcass, looked upon by those still living.

  5. James@youdolife

    Sep 29, 2013 at 3:37 pm

    Love this article!!!!

  6. Nancy

    Apr 29, 2013 at 6:10 pm

    Thought provoking indeed! It is the IRONY!

  7. Lyndon

    Apr 22, 2013 at 3:15 pm

    If like to write this quote from marine Johnson although this has been slightly altered . “Our deepest fear is not that we ate inadequate.our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.it is our light not our darkness that most frightens us.your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking; that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are meant to shine as children do. Its not just in some of us; it is everyone, and as we let our own lights shine, we unconsciously give other permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others”

  8. Steve

    Feb 18, 2013 at 12:02 am

    None of it makes any difference.
    Life is meaningless.
    Whether you lived a good life or not, you still ended up blowing in the wind.
    Steve

    • Eric Weinberg

      Nov 14, 2013 at 6:17 am

      Wow….you sound like an amazing person. Can we please hang out?

    • laura@gmail.com

      Dec 31, 2013 at 11:32 pm

      Who cares if it’s meaningless (and what does that really mean, anyways)? It’s all you’ve got. Want to enjoy it happily or unhappily? Simple concept.

  9. YourInnerSelfGrowth

    Jan 12, 2013 at 3:15 am

    Amazing post. I have seen this re-posted many times, glad to find the original post, where it all came from.

    Thanks for your words of wisdom.

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When I hear someone using my name once in a while throughout the conversation we are having, I cannot stop myself thinking “this person must have read Dale Carnegie’s books or must have been influenced by someone who read them…” Have you just recalled a similar moment and it felt nice?

As Dale Carnegie famously said, “Remember that a person’s name is, to that person, the sweetest and the most important sound in any language”. Why did Dale Carnegie highlight the importance of an individual’s name to that person in his “How to Win Friends and Influence People” book published in 1936?

Each and every one of us wants to feel special and unique. I guess he recommends using the person’s name in the conversation because that is one of the easiest ways to grab that person’s attention so that we can enhance the chances of getting our point across. However, I am more interested in this from the other side; hearing our names directly addresses our individuality, our need or desire to feel special and unique.  

Let’s park this one for now and we will come back. 

Categorization is essential to our survival

There is countless scientific research telling us about how our brains recognize similarities and put things into categories, which has been crucial to our survival in evolution and still helps us with a lot of things from learning new things to coping with the continuous influx of massive amounts of information through our senses. 

The continuous influx of information is mostly handled by our subconscious mind rather than conscious. It is estimated that our brains receive about 11 million bits of information every second through our senses, of which only 40-50 bits can be processed by our conscious mind. We process more information than we are aware of. The magic here is the subconscious mind.

An example is when you are at a very loud party where you hear a lot of words flying around without you recognizing each one of them, then suddenly, you immediately catch it when you hear your name. Your subconscious had been processing all of those words, without your awareness, but informed your conscious mind when your name was out there because it was relevant to you.

In order to most effectively process this much information and inform the conscious mind with only the relevant ones, our subconscious employs categorization as one of its strategies.

When our ancestors encountered some deadly predators in the African savanna, their subconscious prompted their conscious mind to immediately fight or flight by categorizing the information gathered through their senses into “predator / life threat / take action”. Most probably we are not descendants of the ones that were frozen rather than fighting or flighting! 

Although it is a completely different situation, the same strategy applied in remembering lists. Let’s look at the below two lists.

  1. lion, eagle, shark, leopard, hawk, whale, panther, falcon and dolphin 
  2. lion, leopard, panther, eagle, hawk, falcon, shark, whale and dolphin

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Subconsciousness is the magic and categorization is one of its key strategies. It is essential to our survival, learning new skills and processing information as well as bringing back the information we had processed and stored. 

This amazing skill has its drawbacks

As a result of our brains’ categorization strategy, we also categorize people, especially if we don’t know them as well as our closest ones.

Imagine I am sitting at the table next to yours while you are having your favorite coffee and working on your computer or reading your novel at your neighborhood coffee shop. I stand up, very calmly grab your bag, and start walking away. Your reaction might be quite different depending on my outfit. It could be much more vocal and harsh if I have a dirty T-Shirt and a pair of torn jeans on. However, if I have some navy colored, 3-piece suit and well-pressed white button up shirt on, you might even say something like “Excuse me, you might have picked up my bag by mistake”. (There is an experiment done by social psychologists which reported similar results)

Similarly, I would not be surprised to hear that my co-worker’s spouse is very skilled and knowledgeable in English grammar and literature because he is an English teacher. However, I would not expect it from my co-worker herself because she is an outstanding chemical engineer.  

This is defined as unconscious bias or stereotyping, as a result of our subconscious brain’s categorization strategy. The outfit I have at the coffee shop impacts your response to my action, because it puts me into a different category in your mind depending on my outfit. My co-worker’s and her spouse’s backgrounds make me put them into different categories, which might mislead me sometimes.

Just like we categorize things, it is very natural that we categorize people.  

The key question here for me is; how do we truly treat people as individuals so that they feel unique, just like as they would want, while we know that our brains categorize people

We can overcome unconscious bias 

Leonard Mlodinow, in his enlightening book “Subliminal”, suggests that “if we are aware of our bias and motivated to overcome it, we can.” That doesn’t mean that we need to fight our brain’s categorization strategy. We just need to employ our conscious mind more when we are working or dealing with individuals. 

Our unconscious bias might tell us scientists are bunch of technical nerds who cannot understand abstract concepts that marketers are talking about or it might say that marketers are some daydreamers who need to be grounded by scientists to the real world all the time. I am an engineer and I love thinking in abstract terms and I worked with quite a lot of marketers who thought primarily in factual and concrete terms. 

Spending some effort to learn more about individuals will help overcome unconscious bias. Gathering more information and qualities about them will make it easier for us to treat them as individuals rather than a member of the category we put them in our minds. 

The moral of the story here is to recognize the fact that our brains do categorize, and it is essential; but also, to recognize that every individual wants to feel unique. When we appreciate these two and keep reminding them to ourselves, we are one step closer to figuring out our own way to overcome unconscious bias and treat people more like individuals. 

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