Bronnie Ware worked in hospice care for a number of years. The Australian nurse walked with numerous patients as they journeyed through their last three to twelve weeks of life. From her position she saw death quite clearly and observed some pivotal decisions.
In 2011 she published her full-length memoirs titled The Top Five Regrets of the Dying - A Life Transformed by the Dearly Departing. In this work she identified five of the most common regrets noted by dying patients.
#5 – I wish that I had let myself be happier. Happiness is a choice and far too many of us let people, habits, security, or fear keep us from making that choice.
#4 – I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends. In the end love and relationships trump everything else.
#3 – I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings. Suppressed feelings blocked greater honesty and hindered healthier relationships.
#2 – I wish I didn’t work so hard. Ware said, “This came from every male patient that I nursed.” The drive for more actually led to less.
#1 – I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me. Dreams deferred may never occur. Seize them while you have health to do so, because as Ware writes, “Health brings a freedom very few realize, until they no longer have it.”
We do not need to live a life of regret but we should live life to the fullest. Jesus said in John 10:10, “I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.”
The reason we should live everyday to the fullest is because we are not promised tomorrow. James says in 4:14b, “For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes.” So don’t live today with regrets but live each day to the fullest as if today was your last day.