With a diary of dying people’s greatest regrets during her work as a personal carer, Bronnie Ware can be a great inspiration to us in terms of re-evaluating the choices we make in our current lives and how to make sure we don’t look back in vain at the end of it.
Daily Goals looked at the dying’s greatest regrets, based on Bronnie’s findings, and listed five things you can do to walk a path of happiness and fulfilment.
5. Allow Yourself to Be Happy
This seems to be a strange regret. We’re happy, aren’t we? Or are we just pretending we are – for ourselves, our family and our friends? What does happiness really mean to us and what makes us happy? Like, really happy?
Here’s a thought: happiness is a choice. However, the things that can make us happy are often a change. And change is scary. Ultimately, that fear of change is what keeps us from experiencing new things that are waiting to be discovered. Fortunately, you can always start making a change.
But where do you start?
You can start by making a simple silly joke or decide to really enjoy that huge ice bowl covered in sprinkles, while laughing with a friend you’ve just reconnected with. You’d end up losing sight of how much fun you’re having and start to get really happy. After all, it’s your life, isn’t it? Give priority to making you happy!
Speaking of friends, this is our next tip on the fourth regret of the dying.
4. Keep in Touch With Your Friends
Do you remember that time back at school, when hanging out with your bestie was the most important thing that made your day. This simply because you could share things and experience the wildest adventures with that someone, who you knew would always be there, well, do you?
As life goes on and we’re engaged, many of us stop making the effort to nurture those friendships and simply trust that we’ll meet again someday – if time permits, that’s it. Bronnie discovered that one of the greatest regrets of people who were dying was the fact that their friendships had dried up because they were stuck in certain patterns of life. Nothing can be solved by doing nothing. And friendships, like everything else that have been achieved in life, are a really worthwhile work.
Of course, you may have strayed from certain friends, and that is perfectly natural. But when you realize that one friend is indeed someone who contributes to your life, no money in the world, work or other obligations will make up for the contact with that person. A call can be a good start. You can see how things are shifting and how much you will gain from the re-ignited friendship.
3. Express Your Feelings More
Not everyone can really say what we feel and think. Instead, many accept life as it is without trying to change anything. Disease and unhappiness are often the sad consequence, because those feelings are suppressed.
Yes, we can be afraid of the reaction of the others. We think they laugh at us, are disappointed, or find our reasoning absolutely ridiculous. What matters, however, is that their reactions or answers are opinions rather than facts.
Ask 100 people and you collect all kinds of opinions. But what difference does it make? It’s your life you live in, not theirs. How do you feel? That’s all that matters. Let go and let yourself be heard. And trust that you can also deal with other opinions.
2. Make Your Life Easier
Another regret about the dying is that they worked too hard. They even realised that at the end of their lives they had missed the most important things, the ones that had made them happy. This regret was especially present in the male patients that Bronnie cared for, and the older generation in particular.
This is a warning sign.
Working hard to make a living may be the only thing most of us think is impossible not to do. However, it can be useful to look at how much we really have to work to be happy. If we realise that we don’t need that vacation in Palm Beach, but instead shift the focus to having our family, regardless of location, the logical consequence is that you don’t have to work as much for a simpler lifestyle. By creating that extra space in your life, you might be happier.
1. Have the Courage to Live a Life That is For Yourself
We all know the situation: we have dreams and we encounter obstacles that prevent the realisation of those dreams. We have to make a decision and we are afraid to take a risk. Who do we ask? Our parents. Who do we listen to? Our best friend. That’s all great! However, we are certainly able to decide for ourselves, and we have to realize that mistakes help us grow and are therefore extremely important to become a better person. Bronnie felt it was the dying person’s greatest regret that they had not led a life that was true to themselves, but to others.
Our parents and friends want the best for us. But maybe they have their own ideas about that. So, take a step back and look at what YOU feel is the right thing to do. This way, we have the opportunity to have a happier life, because we know we’ve done things the way we thought they should be done. Doing this will make te chance to live ‘your’ dreams come true.