Ten Essentials

The Top Five Regrets of the Dying

As its title suggests, The Top Five Regrets of the Dying, by Australian former hospice nurse Bronnie Ware, is focused on people’s thoughts and feelings, at the end of their lives, about what might have been.

It’s a sombre subject, but also a helpful one, because of course the book is also very much about what might yet be in the lives of its readers.

The top five regrets discussed in the book are as follows:

  • 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 much
  • 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

These painful observations can be reframed as directives to those who are not yet facing the imminent end of their lives:

  • Live a life true to yourself
  • Don’t work too much
  • Express your feelings
  • Stay in touch with friends
  • Let yourself be happy

For those seeking to live a life at the lower end of the regret scale, these feel like useful commandments to return to and assess repeatedly as one moves along on one’s own life’s journey, hopefully with many milestones still to come.