Death is inevitable. But that doesn't mean we can't live it to the fullest. Yet, we somehow manage to miss out on living and end up with more regrets than memories.
Editor’s note: This article was originally published on August 22, 2019. It has since been updated.
We're always in a rush. As a child, we rushed to grow up. As a teenager, we rushed to become adults and gain freedom. As adults, we are in a constant race to get jobs, keep ourselves afloat, get into a relationship, start a family, own a home and the list goes on. But by the time we grow older, we start to wonder if we were satisfied with the life we lived or if we have any regrets.
As we look back, we begin to think that there were a lot of decisions we made with naive minds or that were stupid in the first place. But the truth is, we also did the best we could under the circumstances. And for that reason, we shouldn't judge our former selves for it.
However, not everyone gives themselves that break. Bronnie Ware, an Australian nurse, who provided hospice care for patients for years witnessed many of them come to certain realizations after they were faced with their own mortality. And from that, she compiled a list of the top five regrets of those who were dying in her book titled, The Top Five Regrets of the Dying: A Life Transformed by the Dearly Departing.
Often times, we are afraid to be ourselves. Whether it's the fear of being judged or the worry that we'll be rejected, we hide behind a mask. We spend our lives doing the best we can to make others happy and to be a part of a group that accepts us. But we end up forgetting who we are in that process and by the time we reach an age where other's opinions don't matter to us, we regret not having lived our lives as ourselves. We regret not having taken our own paths and decisions to make a life that we're satisfied with.
Working towards your dreams and goals is one of the ways we stay true to ourselves, but sometimes, we let that blind ambition keep us from stopping to smell the roses and enjoy the little things in life. For every dance recital, soccer practice or picnic that we missed because we worked hard to support our family, we lost that time to bond with our children or husband or even parents. Now, we just wish we had taken a break from work to spend time with them.
Life is too short. And because of that, it's important that we build up the courage to just completely be and project ourselves into the world. We should never be ashamed of voicing our opinions or sharing our feelings. After all, it's that identity that helps us be more at peace with ourselves. But lying to ourselves about our real personality or standing down when it's your values that are being questioned can leave us broken and desolate towards the later part of our life.
Friends may come and go, but it's the friends who become our second family that are most important. Yet, in the race of life and the mountain of responsibilities that we have to shoulder every day, we start to disconnect from them. If they're not in our lives constantly, we tend to forget that they still hold a place in our heart. Soon enough, we fall out of touch and as we grow older, we miss the bond that connected us together.
This might just be the most important thing that we need in life but end up regretting not having enough of - happiness. We deserve it. More often than not, we blame our circumstances on how we look at life. We could have everything and still feel empty inside or have absolutely nothing and feel the wealth of the world inside us. But happiness is a choice that only we can make and we should never wait till we're facing our mortality to wish we had given ourselves permission to be happy.