If I told you that you only have a few more weeks to live, what would be your biggest regret in life? It’s such a horrible thought, but one that requires much honesty with oneself. The beauty of books is that it allows us to shrink time by reading other people’s lives, years and years of experiences and lessons, condensed in a couple of hundred pages (such a beautiful shortcut that’s unreasonably underutilized). One of the most life-shocking, mind-boggling books I’ve read (and I think will ever read) is The Top 5 Regrets of the Dying. It was like a warning sign in the journey of my life telling me of the things I’d be regretting down the road if I don’t do anything about it now.
I just don’t want to live a regretful life; I believe everyone wants that too. We want to look back at our lives with a grin on our faces symbolizing our gratitude and satisfaction and admittedly not with a tail between our legs beaten down by “I wish I did this and didn’t do that.” But we should worry no more because there’s a shortcut to living a regret-less life. And as any shortcut in life, it’s not as paved and smooth as the long way, so we have to be courageous enough to succumb to the resistance we face both internally and externally.
Based on the author, Bronnie Ware, who nursed many dying people mostly in their eighties and nineties, summarized the five most common regrets those elderly had before they passed away. The order in the following list does matter:
Regret 1: I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me
Regret 2: I wish I hadn’t worked so hard
Regret 3: I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings
Regret 4: I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends
Regret 5: I wish I had let myself be happier
For the record, giving you the list is not, in any way, a book-spoiler. The book is, in fact, way more than just a mere list. It is a memoir of a life transformed by the dearly departing, as Bronnie elegantly put it. It is full of stories that will surely change your life as it did to me (the reader) and Bronnie (the author).
I’m sure among the regrets aforementioned, one of them triggered you the most; I was triggered too. Regret 2 was like a slap in my face. My heart was beating fast as my eyes were skimming through the pages of that chapter; my tongue felt heavier than usual. Then and there, I knew I had to do something about it otherwise I’ll be regretting it on my death bed just like John when he told Bronnie with a sad smile,
If I can leave any good in this world besides my family, I leave these words. Don’t work too hard. Try to maintain balance. Don’t make work your whole life.
Let’s not wait until we reach a point in our lives where there’s no return. We need to be honest with ourselves, live the life we desire, enjoy it beyond our careers, never keep our feelings unsaid, tell our loved ones how much we appreciate them, and always look for reasons to be happy, even with the silliest of things.