Common regrets before dying


Lisa added this to her Facebook wall and got me thinking and writing.

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. Health brings a freedom very few realise, until they no longer have it.”

Absolutely. Its really hard to express in words how this feels being so close to death myself. I want to die living my dreams and doing exactly what I feel is right not what others expect. This fits well with my post about being yourself.

Its also why I beat myself up about following what certain people said around me. Learned a precious lesson about following my own path and ignoring others. I’ll have the courage to make my own path through life.

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.”

Yes this is going to be the big one for me and many others around me. I’m very lucky my job is also my joy. Its what makes waking up and getting out of bed a little easier. But I imagine this is going to be a difficult relationship to have when I have a partner and kids. My parents worked really hard to bring the best of the world to me and my sister. So I always feel like I should be working harder. Its a slight amount of guilt that I’m not working as hard as they have done.

However I do believe in working smarter not harder. To work smarter I need to find a path which suits me not one presubscribed by someone else. We are all so different and the idea this worked for people previously isn’t a good enough reason to keep going.

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.”

Yes I was in a restaurant with a couple of friends recently and one was telling the other how he felt. I felt this was fantastic and we should do this more. As men, were brought up not to express our feelings and this is frankly crap. Ok I’m not saying we should go around crying on each other but there’s nothing wrong with saying this is how I feel about this or that. Anyone who turns against you is frankly heartless and has the real problem.

As I was saying to Jody the other day… Haters always going to hate but ultimately they hate themselves. It takes courage to stand up and express your own feelings. Specially in the face of such hatred but you owe it to yourself to pick and choose your battles. When the time comes, let them have it!

Expressing feelings will be hard for others to take, specially as its seen as a female thing to do. Which is total nonsense. But hopefully through you doing so, others will see it as a positive thing.

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.”

Yes I try my best to keep in touch with old friends and to be fair have been good at doing this to a degree all my life. I try to stay in touch even if I’ve not heard from them in many years. And for goodness sake its so much easier nowadays. The likes of Facebook really helps you to connect.

I was talking to some friends recently and they were expressing there distance between them and other friends. They didn’t want to do the chasing all the time as they may seem like they were bugging them. I asked them who cares? So you insert yourself in someone elses life, whats wrong with that? Of course if they really don’t like it, they will tell you to get lost but if inserting yourself is always a positive thing, do it!

The longer you leave it, the harder it gets. Just don’t get caught up with the fear of rejection.

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.”

Happiness is a choice and you need to work towards it.

I personally have made decisions recently to work towards it in different aspects of my life. I understand everyones happiness is different but what ever it is, you need to move towards it. This is self evident in my decision to go to Tokyo before 2016. Something which wasn’t very clear was I wanted to visit the city not really experience Japan as such. This might seem short sighted but frankly what will make me happy is visiting the city not the country.

I love cities and they make me happy, small towns and further a field are nice to visit once in a while but ultimately its visiting the metropolis of Tokyo which is going to make me feel most alive. I could pretend that “oh yes, the country side… the temples… etc” but it would be a lie. I’m kind of beyond lying to others. Kinda of done playing that boring game…

Author: Ianforrester

Senior firestarter at BBC R&D, emergent technology expert and serial social geek event organiser.

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