Bronnie Ware, an Australian palliative care nurse has written a book called The Top Five Regrets of the Dying. I have yet to read her book, but I was deeply moved by an article on her powerful observations. It surprised me to learn that the most common regret of the dying was that they wished that they’d had the courage to live a life that was true to themselves, not the life that others expected of them. She describes how many people approaching the end of their life realise that they have not fulfilled even half of their dreams. Why is this?
Obviously, responsibilities weigh us down at times. We can’t pursue our every dream when we are looking after young children for example. Many would argue that having the children in the first place is pursuing a dream. Always focusing solely on ourselves would be considered selfish, especially if others suffered as a result.
But there are many opportunities that we let slip by because we worry too much. We worry about money. We worry about our careers. We worry about letting other people down. And all this worry creates one giant obstacle blocking our dreams.
Bronnie Ware makes the powerful statement: “Health brings a freedom very few realise, until they no longer have it.” Many people who have survived a serious illness report having a changed perspective on life. But for those who are not going to survive, they don’t have the time to reap the benefits of a new outlook. How can we enjoy the freedom that health brings us?
- Remember that it’s not selfish to consider your own needs
- Don’t always give yourself the burnt chop – share it around
- Regularly make a list of your dreams
- Be aware of the self-imposed obstacles
- Don’t wait for illness to give you a wake-up call
- Realise that when children see you fulfilling your dreams, they will be learning to do the same
- Don’t let your upbringing define you
- Remember that there are always choices to be made