Five years ago, Bronnie Ware wrote a blog post entitled The Top 5 Regrets Of The Dying. The post has been read by millions, and since turned into a book. Bronnie was a palliative care nurse, caring for people during their last days or weeks of life, so she has good “research” on this issue.

Here are the five regrets, with a few of my thoughts on each:

Gravestone of regrets © Markus Gann |

1) I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.

The number one regret of the dying is not being themselves. Few escape this, even those who are strong and self-assured. We waste time and energy trying to please others or live up to their expectations. We set off our goals, desires, and dreams. We tell ourselves this is what mature people do, but our actions do not come from maturity

2) I wish I hadn’t worked so hard.

Bronnie said every man she worked with expressed this regret. I can relate; I wish I had worked a bit less hard in the past. Doing that would have required changes such as being willing to live with less stuff. I have been making changes along these lines for more than a year, and I like it. 

Our society tells us hard work is expected. Hard work makes us someone, makes us approved. What we miss is the way too much work limits our relationships. As I read the Bible, relationships are critical to furthering God’s Kingdom.

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

This is another aspect of people pleasing. We go along to get along. We bury our feelings and deny they exist. We look good on the outside, but inside we are full of all manner of garbage.

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

Relationships are important. Study after study finds good relationships result in longer, healthier lives.

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

“Let myself” is an interesting phrase. As Bronnie says, “Many did not realize until the end that happiness is a choice.” I regularly talk about choice here because much of what we have, and much of what we do not have, comes down to choice. 

Now What Will You Do?

I bet more than one of those five hit you in the face. What are you going to do about it? Are you going to keep doing these things, and regret it when you are dying? Or, are you ready to change? Stop living a passive life, start making different choices! You can have a better life, and a better marriage. You can feel better about yourself and be happier. 

By the way – if the “Gospel” you have been following directs you to do any of those five things, I would like to suggest you have been lied to. Yes, God expects certain things of us, and yes, we are supposed to avoid certain things. However, Jesus promised His yoke is easy and His burden is light. If easy and light do not describe what you are living, either Jesus lied or you are not living what He intended.

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