You know the old saying: When you are on your deathbed, you won't wish you had worked longer hours. But what will you wish you had done -- or not done in your life? A palliative care nurse -- that is someone who cares for the dying -- has listened to a lot of patients who have come to the end of their days. "People grow a lot when faced with their own mortality," the anonymous nurse writes on EmpowerNetwork.com. She says the emotional changes a dying person experiences are phenomenal, ranging from denial to remorse, fear to anger and eventually acceptance. When she asked her dying patients if they had any regrets in their life, the answers were different, but common themes emerged again and again.
The top five regrets people have on their deathbed:
1. I wish I'd had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.
We all have dreams, but real life tends to get in the way. Many of our unrealized ambitions are due to choices we made--or didn't make--along the way. What can you do now? Honor your dreams while you still have good health and the freedom that brings.
2. I wish I didn't work so hard.
This is an especially common regret among men, who realize far too late in life that they missed much of their children's youth and their wife's companionship. What can you do now? While work and the money it brings are essential, there are ways to simplify your lifestyle so you don't have to spend as much time at work or in a job that is so demanding it takes time away from what matters most.
3. I wish I'd had the courage to express my feelings.
To keep the peace, it's often easier to keep quiet. That can mean not only settling for a mediocre existence and never truly becoming all of which you are capable of being, but also being filled with bitterness and resentment. What can you do now? Be honest with yourself and others. Say what is on your mind. Be your authentic self.
4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.
Old friends are one of our greatest blessings. Losing track of them in the busyness of life is something that can cause you great regret later. In the final weeks of life what matters most is love and friendship. What can you do now? Make time for your friends. You may discover it's more a matter of scheduling and time management than a true lack of time.
5. I wish that I had let myself be happier.
Happiness is a choice, and it's something that many people don't realize until they are dying. Our fear of change can stymie our chance to grow and try new things. What can you do now? Laugh! Invite silliness and fun into your life on a daily basis.