The Top 5 Regrets From Dying People


regretRegret Nothing …


Before we grow old we should all think about what we want to do with our lives.  Ask yourself this question often, because time flies by faster than most of us realize. 

How would you feel if you found yourself growing old, or perhaps dying, and not having lived up to your dreams?  Do you want to accomplish the things you really want to do with your life or do you want to take things as they come and never really think about the end?

Most of us know the things we would like to do, but many of us simply don’t get around to making a list and really concentrating on accomplishing each item from that list.  I came across a blog post called “The Buried Life”, by Bronnie Ware, that was all about this. 

Bronnie went into detail about things that people regret at the end of their lives.  In an old folks home, they were asked to highlight the things that they would have done differently or that they regretted from their lives.

Regret in an old folks home …

The article included the following regrets from those who were asked:

Regret #1: “I wish I would have had the courage to live true to myself and not what other expected of me.”

This one goes without saying for most people.  Many people make decisions based on what other people will think or how they will react.  As a result we never really stay true to ourselves and our most important goals and tasks.  We find ourselves caught up in how our family or friends will view us if we attempt to do what we want.

Of all regrets stated this was the most common of all.  When people are near death they often look back and see how many of their dreams were left unfulfilled.  People need to live with the choices they have made and the dreams they have forfeited.  

While you have the time, honor your dreams.  Make a valiant effort to accomplish each and everyone one of them.  It’s a great idea to prioritize in order to ensure that your dreams are accomplished. 

List the dreams you want to come true the most, and work on making those dreams a reality first.  Many people feel that their dreams are simply not all going to be accomplished in this life time and this is the precise attitude I hope to disrupt.  You can accomplish all of your dreams!  

The secret is remembering what they are in the midst of distraction.  We are all distracted from our dreams because they may be hard to obtain or because they involve other people to play a roll.  If you really want to do something make it a priority and don’t allow yourself to become absent minded of them.

Regret #2:  “I wish I didn’t work so hard.”

This one I have been driving home for some time now.  We should work smarter, and not harder.  Many of us work very hard for little money.  In the end we realize that our time is so much more valuable than the money we so often receive for it. 

So many people have exchanged their precious time for their paychecks.  In doing so they often miss important moments in their child’s youth.  They forfeit intimate moments with their partners and ultimately they don’t tend to their relationships as much as they hoped. 

Making money becomes the priority over living the way we really want to live.  Of the people surveyed for the article mostly men held regrets like this one. 

Many of the women were not the breadwinners of their family, and thus had more time with the kids and more time to think about their relationship with their spouse and how to make it flourish.  Although women were less likely to state this regret there were many women who expressed regret in terms of how they spent their time working so hard.

In dealing with this regret it is important to realize that we made choices along the way.  Perhaps we didn’t really need all the income we worked for and we could have spent more time tending to things that are far more important. 

Take a look at your schedule right now and try to make time for your children, and your partner if you have them.  Creating more opportunity for those relationships to flourish will help you avoid this common regret when you are older.

Regret #3: “I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings.”

Many of us do not deal with our emotions in a healthy manner.  Often times our truest feelings are not heard, in order to save face, or keep the peace.  This often results in resentments that can tear us apart on the inside.  Whenever we contain our emotions, and do not speak of how we really feel, we are often left with feelings of resentment for the people involved.

Resentments are never worthy of our time.  Although we can never control how people will react to our emotions it is important that we let them be heard.  Letting out our truest emotions on a matter is almost always worth our while.  It will either result in a better understanding of each other, or it may result in a relationship being cut from our lives. 

Either way we end up on top because if the relationship causes us resentment on regular basis it is likely not healthy for us.

Regret #4: “ I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.”

We all come to moments in our lives where we miss our friends and regret not calling, or staying in touch as much as we should have.  This was a common regret for the old folks surveyed. 

Everyone misses their friends, especially when they are growing old and reaching their end.  They think about how they should have acted differently, stayed in touch, or reached out all of those times they had though of doing so.  Don’t wait to feel this regret. 

Schedule time for your friends now and stay in touch often.  Whenever you feel you should call, do it!

We often find ourselves making excuses to not stay in touch. Perhaps it has been a while and we feel awkward about calling out of the blue.  Or maybe we are super busy with work and  make the excuse that we are too tired or can’t find the time. Nonetheless we should make the call and get in touch.  Your friends are important, and staying in touch will allow you to avoid regret.

Regret #5:  “I wish I had let myself be happier.”

Think about this one for a second.  It’s true we can “let” ourselves be happier.  The secret often lies in a positive attitude and a detachment from material things that supposedly bring us happiness. 

Fear and materialism often prevent us from experiencing true happiness.  Many people do not realize that happiness is a decision we can make.  We can choose to be happy.  We can welcome the opportunity to be silly or playful.  We can make the choice to look past the things that bring us down and concentrate on the plethora of things we have to be happy about.

No matter who you are, no matter what the situation, it is important to look at the things we have right now to be happy about. 

Regret leads to unhappiness …

Many of us however are not as happy as we could be.  Again this is often due to regrets or failure in achieving our goals and our plan for ourselves.  Tied into the rest of the regrets this one can often be solved by tending to the other regrets. 

The less we regret, the happier we will be.  We can concentrate on reasons to be unhappy, or we can open the floodgate for those things that should make us happy.

Take a look at regrets one through five.  Do any of them ring true for you already?  If so please leave a comment about your regret and how you have come to deal with it.

Regret article source

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{ 21 comments… read them below or add one }

  1. Cassandra Barnes

    Thank you for the article on Abandon Regret. I wish I learned this lesson years ago.


  2. Siuha


    What your have written here is exactly how I feel.

    I am glad that I found your site. You give me hope.



  3. DylanC

    All of them ring true except for number two. I actually wish I had worked harder, but only for the last couple of years.


  4. Mac


    Interesting post (thanks) — but what about that eternal-life thingy?


  5. nirpal

    Thats the Truth…The True Message…


  6. Trevor Weir

    This article touches me. There was a point in my life where I didn’t want to live with any regrets. For me it has become about not beating myself up with regret. I believe that the things I regret are the first step to allowing myself to expand in terms of character. An example, I regret smoking cigarettes for 20 years now. This regret is going to make me quit. In fact its the only thing that will. I think it’s about not living with regret. Recognizing it, and making appropriate changes to avoid future regret. I have a hard time believing people who say they have no regrets. Perhaps they just figured out how to live on after it.


  7. Wallace Johnson MBA

    At age 87 and in my autumn years, I too look back from time to time and weigh everything out just to see if the scales balance pretty well. In my case, they do. Oh sure, Iv’e done some foolish things that should have been left alone, but when I really give it some thought, in all honesty, I wouldn’t change a thing. I say that if for no other reason than that if I had, my current existence would not be what it is. My life would have been changed from what I have so far experienced, and I don’t think I would take that chance were it offered to me. I guess, I’ve had a guardian angel, because adversity was more than once changed to opportunity which I took advantage of. All in all, I’m the luckiest man alive I guess, and I thank whoever was responsible for what I have had up to this point. The days are getting short, but I’m no hurry. Too much to do. I think that’s the real secret to the journey, it’s not the destination, but the trip. Keep busy, that’s the answer. Its worked for me so far.


  8. Chris Carpenter

    Very well said!

    Seems like you have a lot of gratitude and that’s awesome!

    Thanks for sharing Wallace! You’re an inspiration!


  9. Todd

    Hello Chris,
    After reading your article,which was great! I cant say as I have any regrets so far. I live my life by all those 5 regrets,mostly cause growing up I had many relatives who at the end of there lives had those regrets and then some.

    Growing up I vowed that the day I die id have no regrets.I try to live my life to that very statement each and everyday. The easiest way I found to that is the K.i.s.s method.(Keep it simple stupid!) Never say no to trying something new! Dont make your life complicated keep it as simple as passable. Stick to what you need to live and not so much what you want..

    I dont know it works for me.


  10. Chris Carpenter

    Hi Todd, Thanks for your comment! Yes agree totally!
    Keep it simple!

    I’ve definitely over complicated some areas of my life and am now working on simplifying them.

    There’s a lot to be said of a simple life. And simple doesn’t need to be boring. It’s just doing the things that are important to you and not all of the other stuff.

    It’s actually really fulfilling to simplify huh? Every time I simplify something I feel a little lighter.


  11. Brian

    Thanks for the info and the opportunity to live life. The true meaning of life is living it and enjoying anyway of helping others live. I have no job, times are tough, but this has been an omen and my awakening to live before I die.


  12. Jerokiah Darr

    Very insightful post, Chris! Bookmarking for future reference because it’s never too late to live happy as long as we’re still alive. Reminds me of the 3 things Jim Rohn said we should leave behind: Our photo albums, our journal and our library.


  13. Chris Carpenter

    Thanks for reminding me of Jim Rohn. I need to head over to youtube later and watch some of his videos. So motivational.
    Thanks for your comment Jerokiah!


  14. Ryan Thompson

    Thanks for the post Chris! Good eye opener.


  15. Chris Carpenter

    Thanks Ryan! Yes it really puts things into perspective, doesn’t it?


  16. Donna

    Just wanted to let you know that I found this very interesting. I work in a retirement home and enjoy working with the elderly. I hear stories all the time about their lives.
    Thanks Donna


  17. Chris Carpenter

    Hi Donna, You must hear those sorts of stories quite often.
    I think it is quite sad how many of us put off our dreams and keep putting them off and then before you know it we are old and we never did some things that we always wanted to.


  18. Arnljot Blindheim

    Great post reminds me about
    One of the Greatest songs ever ! Thank you very much
    Edith Piaf-No Regrets


  19. Chris Carpenter

    Thanks for the link Edith, that song is very fitting indeed!


  20. Alberto

    It’s funny that I know the music, but never really paid attention to the lyrics (now I know that I should have). Thanks for pointing it out, Arnljot! And thanks for this great post, Chris. Very inspiring.


  21. Trevor Weir

    Does anyone know how to get over the regret of a promiscuous past? A girlfriend of mine just went on two week party and she is regretting what she has done and fearing the judgment that she may receive. I think it’s mostly her judging herself right now because to me its a small thing. To me we all have skeletons but i guess that doesn’t make you get over the regret when you are living in it. Any suggestions on how I can help her overcome this regret? I have been just telling her that it’s over now and she can always change her life however she wants it. She was in tears. Please help.


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