Growing older brings with it a certain wisdom. I spent several years working with the elderly and learned so much by listening to their stories. What intrigued me the most was listening to whether they had any regrets. After speaking to many people, I realised that there were some regrets that were listed over and over.
Here are the top 5 regrets of the dying:
1) “I wish I has spent less time working”
2) “I wish I had made more time for my family and friends”
3) “I wish I had allowed myself to be happier”
4) “I wish I’d been more true to myself instead of doing what was expected of me.”
5) “I wish I’d been able to express my emotions more.”
Be true to yourself
We inadvertently end up living in ‘chains’ created by the expectations others and society put on us. We have the choice to reject this pressure and follow our hearts but many of us remain dutiful and give in to the pressure to conform. Many times, I hear people say “I couldn’t possibly do what I want, what would everyone else say/think?”.
Drown out the ‘noise’ of others
We get caught up in the drama and ‘noise’ around us and forget that we have a choice as to whether we want to be involved in that or whether we wish to make our own rules for our lives. Society seems hell bent on getting us off track – getting us away from who we truly our (our essential self) and making us be good citizens who work hard, do what we’re told and stick to the ‘programme’.
What if we don’t like the programme? The elderly people I spoke to told me that they had a different perspective on life and challenged the status quo that exists. We are so conditioned that we often don’t realise how much this is going on until we have a chance to sit back and detach. From the detached vantage point – ill health and old age tend to force you to detach – life can seem like an overpopulated anthill. Everyone rushing about, trying to prove themselves and make money..for what?
We get off track when we forget to be true to ourselves and to cherish the important people in our lives. We get off track when we think that a big house and fancy car will satisfy us and help us to believe that we are worthy. The 5 regrets of the dying can be reduced if we tune in to our essential selves more…the real person beneath the conditioning.
NOT ONCE did I ever see any photographs in any of the rooms of the dying that I visited, of cars, houses and degree certificates. What I did see, was photographs of family and friends. Yep – that is what it boils down to…as well as your relationship with yourself. Did you lead a good life with integrity? Were you the same person inside and outside or did you change constantly to fit in and be approved of? If you did, it’s likely that you haven’t a clue who you really are anymore. The top 5 regrets of the dying teach us that we should shake off societal pressure and follow our instincts. Trust in ourselves more, have more fun and appreciate those people in our lives that make time for us and care for us.
Photo by Alexander Grey on Unsplash