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Photo via me, Kauai, June 2013

This morning I stumbled upon an inspirational blog with a post entitled Regrets of the Dying.  It’s serendipitous that I discovered this article, as I was just telling a new friend I met in Kauai about my fears of dying without truly living.  There is so much to see on this earth, that even if I had thousands of years to explore, it would be impossible to see everything.  It’s all changing so fast, I feel that if I don’t go now, certain places could be gone forever.

“You know, adults have responsibilities.   Normal people don’t just go around buying plane tickets on a whim, jumping off waterfalls instead of going to class, or stay up all night googling foreign places they’d be off to next, without at least a solid plan in mind.” This came from my mother, whom, ironically, is the one who got me started with traveling in the first place.  She’s says she’s created a monster who’s incapable of feeling satisfied with a normal life.

To me it all bottles down to my first initial fear, dying without living.  Here are the 5 regrets that were heard most by Bonnie Ware, a palliative caretaker, a caretaker for those whom wish to go home to die, as told by Bonnie herself in her book [link below]:

1. 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. 

2. I wish I didn’t work so hard.  By simplifying your lifestyle and making conscious choices along the way, it is possible to not need the income that you think you do. And by creating more space in your life, you become happier and more open to new opportunities, ones more suited to your new lifestyle. 

3. 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. 

4. 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. 

5. 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. 

Life is a choice. It is YOUR life. Choose consciously, choose wisely, choose honestly. Choose happiness.

Read the rest of Bonnie’s article, and get information on her book, the Top Five Regrets of the Dying – A Life Transformed by the Dearly Departing here.