In the second post of my series explaining how to add 10 years to your life, Jane McGonigal discusses the top five regrets of the dying as listed in the book by Bronnie Ware.
Top Five Regrets of the Dying
- I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.
- I wish I hadn’t worked so hard
- I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings
- I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends
- I wish that I had let myself be happier
The clarity of dying allows us to look back on our lives, review our dreams, and note the choices that were made or not made to pursue our dreams. Our children’s youth or our spouse’s companionship are sacrificed in the name of working harder. Hiding our emotions creates a shield to live behind and stunts our personal involvement in our lives. Making the difficult choice to be vulnerable by opening our true selves up to others may result in pain, but also gives us the greatest chance of experiencing authenticity and belonging. Too often we get wrapped up in the minutia of everyday life and we allow our friendships to dwindle and die off when they are neglected. And our insistence of remaining in our familiar ways instead of choosing to be happier with a bit of silliness.
The blessing of the book is that it allows us to truly learn from others’ mistakes. We all hold a great capacity for change, growth, and renewal. We can avoid each of these regrets with very small changes in our daily lives and implementing them will not destroy our families, friends, or careers.
For my part, I’m changing myself in these ways.
- Finding out who I really am with my Happiness Project (addressing the regret “I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me”)
- Hanging out with my family and children more, even if it’s only for breakfast every morning. Staying actively invested in their activities by watching and not worrying about photographing, videoing, or texting while at the event (addressing the regret “I wish I hadn’t worked so hard”)
- Letting my loved ones know how I feel about them. Saying “I love you” often, sharing my pride in them, and telling my family when I’m happy, sad, or whatever the feeling of the day might be. My loved ones will never doubt where they stand with me and what I felt about them. (addressing the regret “I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings”)
- Making the dedicated effort to reconnect with old friends and make new ones. Taking time out of the busy day to make a phone call, spend time face time with one another, or even send a small note of appreciation. Putting myself out there to make new friends, attending MeetUp events in my area, volunteering to help when I can (addressing the regret “I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends”)
- Choosing to do things that nourish my soul, like learning new things, watching many great movies, laughing and joking, and letting go of perfectionism (addressing the regret “I wish that I had let myself be happier”)
Please join me in living a life without regrets…
If you haven’t seen it yet, here’s the TED Talk by Jane McGonigal.
This talk is the basis for the following posts:
- The five biggest death-bed regrets
- Post-traumatic growth
- The four resiliances that add to longevity
- The way games fulfill our desires
- How to add 10 years to your life
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