What Do We Regret?

Perhaps the most well-known example is Bronnie Ware, an Australian palliative carer who wrote a book called The Top Five Regrets of the Dying. In it, she describes the five most common wishes she heard from her soon-to-depart clients.

  • I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me. Stringently adhering to cultural norms at the expense of your own passions will result in disappointment and bitterness. 
  • I wish I hadn’t worked so hard. Time is non-refundable so if you spend it working, then you can’t spend it doing more meaningful things.
  • I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings. It is only by being open and honest about your thoughts and feelings can you form genuine bonds with other people. 
  • I wish I’d stayed in touch with my friends. It is dispiriting to be disconnected from those who truly understand you and accept you as you are.
  • I wish I had let myself be happier. The expectations and opinions of others should not prevent you from being happy with who you are. Moreover, happiness can be found in the journey, not just the destination, which you often never reach.


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