Bonnie Ware is an Australian nurse who spent several years caring for patients in the last 12 weeks of their lives.
 She recorded their dying epiphanies in a blog called Inspiration and Chai (,
which gathered so much attention that she put her observations into a book
called The Top Five Regrets of the Dying.

Read her original blog post and see my explanation why so many of us have these regrets.

“For many years I worked in palliative care. My patients were those who had gone home to die. Some incredibly special times were shared. I was with them for the last three to twelve weeks of their lives. …

“When questioned about any regrets they had or anything they would do differently, common themes surfaced again and again. Here are the most common five:”

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 realise 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 had not honoured even a half of their dreams and had to die knowing that it was due to choices they had made, or not made.”

Notice that Ms. Ware said they knew they had surrendered their dreams “due to choices they had made, or not made.”  And what determined their choices?  Beliefs such as:

It’s selfish to do what I want.  I’m not worthy.  I don’t deserve to have what I want.  Mistakes and failure are bad.  If I make a mistake or fail I’ll be rejected.  What makes me good enough and important is having people think well of me.  The way to survive is to do what others want me to do.  I’m not good enough.

2.  “I wish I hadn’t worked 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.”

The behavior leading to this regret is caused by many beliefs, the most important being: What makes me good enough and important are my achievements.  What makes me good enough or important is being successful.

3. “I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings.

“Many people suppressed their feelings in order to keep peace with others. As a result, they settled for a mediocre existence and never became who they
were truly capable of becoming. Many developed illnesses relating to the
bitterness and resentment they carried as a result.”

Here are some beliefs that could keep people from expressing their feelings: My feelings are not important.  If I express my feelings I’ll be rejected.  What makes me good enough or important is having people think well of me.  Anger and conflict are dangerous.

4.  “I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.

“Often they would not truly realise 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.”

Not staying in touch with friends could be caused by such beliefs as:  What makes me good enough or important are my achievements.  What makes me good enough or important is being successful.  You have to work hard to make money.  If I express myself I’ll get hurt.  Relationships are painful.

5.  “I wish that I had let myself be happier.

“This is a surprisingly common one. Many did not realise 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.”

Read that again.  They “did not realize until the end that happiness is a choice.” Get rid of the beliefs that might keep you from realizing that happiness is a choice.

Life is difficult.  You have to take life seriously.  Having fun is childish and stupid.  Mistakes and failure are bad.  If I make a mistake or fail I’ll be rejected.  What makes me good enough or important is having people think well of me.

Don’t allow your beliefs to cause you to reach the end of your life having lived an unfulfilled life.  Eliminate all the beliefs that could keep you from living a full life, from pursuing your dreams, from having your life be all that it can be.

I’d like to end this post with one of my favorite quotes from a former president, Teddy Roosevelt:

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”

Your only real limits are the limits you place on yourself.  Get rid of all those self-imposed limitations.  It is possible.

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