Today I received some news that a friend, who’s not yet 30, has cancer. Knowing their fierce determination, resilience and mindset I’m confident they will beat it.
Still, a big shock.
It had me reflect on friends lost too early. A friend at university who died in a climbing accident. Another after a fall snowboarding. Another to breast cancer and another to a cycling accident. All gone well before their time.
If I could ask them now, I wonder what they would tell me, or any of us? What would they tell us to do differently, what would they encourage us to really cherish, and what would they suggest we let go of?
There’s tremendous power in imagining our future-self, in our final days, having lived a full life with no regrets. Some people may shy away from thinking about that and I’m here to encourage you to go there from time to time. From that perspective we can clearly see who we want to be now, and who we want to become. From that perspective, fear is taken out of the equation.
So have a chat with your future-self about what you might regret, then act on what you discover.
Bronnie Ware, a palliative care nurse, wrote a book called The 5 Regrets of the Dying, after interviewing those in her care.
What do you suppose was top? Do you imagine it was any of these?
I wish I’d had the courage to live the life others expected of me
I wish I’d worked harder
I wish I’d kept my feelings bottled up inside
It sounds ridiculous, right? But it’s what so many of us do. In some way, we buy into lies like these:
I must follow the path others imagined for me, or expected of me
I have to work hard to earn the money me and my family need, and if I have to sacrifice time with my family and friends, it’s a price worth paying
There’s no value in sharing my feelings; why would I take that risk?
I’ve lived all of these in some shape or form. And I guess you have too.
As you might have guessed, the top 3 regrets of the dying are:
I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me
I wish I hadn’t worked so hard
I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings
And sneaking in at number 5 on the list is an interesting one: I wish that I had let myself be happier.
That to me is the most profound of them all. These people had a realisation, a little too late perhaps, that happiness is an inside job.
With thanks to Bronnie Ware: https://bronnieware.com/blog/regrets-of-the-dying/
This article is part of 100 Days of Creation, my challenge to myself to write 100 articles in 140 days, each taking no longer than 30 minutes to write and publish.