The Biggest Regret of the Dying

As a palliative care-worker, Bronnie Ware had a front row seat to watch the last three to twelve weeks of the lives of terminally ill patients.

Over her eight year period caring for the dying, Ware was privy to their darkest moments and last words on their life’s regrets.

To her surprise, the same themes of regrets would resurface over and over again.

Here’s the biggest regret of them all.

I Wish I…

“Success doesn’t depend on someone saying yes…It is about having the courage to be you regardless”- Bronnie Ware

In her book, The Top Five Regrets of the Dying: A Life Transformed by the Dearly Departing, Ware shares the story of one of her palliative patients, Grace, and the greatest life regret she had before her death.

Ware described Grace as “a tiny woman with a huge heart,” who had been married for more than fifty years and lived the life that everyone expected of her.

She endured an unhappy marriage with a tyrannical husband, and often dreamed of living independently and traveling the world.

In her eighties, Grace finally found the long-awaited freedom to live the life she had dreamed of, but this didn’t last long.

Grace fell terminally ill, lost all of her strength and became bedridden. Her freedom and dreams had vanished. It was too late.

In her state of anguish, Grace would lament to Ware and say, “Why didn’t I just do what I wanted? Why did I let him rule me? How can it be possible I have waited all of these years to be free and independent and now it is too late?”

She would repeatedly tell Ware, “don’t you ever let anyone stop you from doing what you want.”

Grace had done everything society expected from her—held fast to her unhappy marriage, raised children, kept up appearances—but on her deathbed, she was overwhelmed with feelings of sadness and regret about her life.

Like Grace, Ware discovered that the majority of her dying patients shared this one common regret:

I wish I had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.

Your Time is Limited

“Life doesn’t owe us anything. We only owe ourselves, to make the most of the life we are living, of the time we have left, and to live in gratitude.” ― Bronnie Ware

Human beings are puzzling creatures.

On one hand we know that death is inevitable. We know that our time is limited here on earth. We know that life is short.

On the other hand, we live like we’re immortal. We live like a long healthy life is guaranteed, and we’d have enough time to achieve our dreams.

The former is reality, the latter is an illusion. But day in and day out, we live in this illusion of limitless time.

The majority of our lives are spent living for other people—family, friends and colleagues—instead of living for ourselves.

We let the fear of failure and rejection hold us back from taking action towards our goals. And spend valuable years comparing ourselves to others, instead of being grateful for what we already have.

Our spare time is spent consuming information on the web, watching television shows and playing “keeping up” with our virtual friends on social media.

The mass media has done a spectacular job of distracting us from facing the reality of death: one day, you will die and never have another shot at life.

It’s unfortunate that for most of us, it takes coming face to face with death to realize this truth and start living a life that is true to ourselves. But just like Grace, it’ll be too late.

There’s a saying that the “wise person learns from his mistakes, but the even wiser person learns from other’s mistakes.”

Learn from the regrets of the dying and give yourself permission to live a life that is true to yourself.

What are you waiting for? The clocking is ticking. Your time is limited.

Originally published at

Mayo Oshin writes at, where he shares well-researched ideas based on proven science and philosophy, for a better life. To get these ideas to overcome procrastination and reclaim hours of wasted time, you can join his free weekly newsletter here.

Image courtesy of Steven Aguilar.

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10 Ways to Find the Courage to Live the Life You Choose

Here are ten spiritual principles designed to help you remember and restore your natural self-command. Allow them to remind you of what you already know is true and see how much easier it becomes to do what is true in the face of difficult moments. In no time at all, your anxious search for self-command will fade away as surely as shadows flee the midday sun.

  1. Realizing the spiritual freedom you long for appears by itself once you stop agreeing to see yourself as powerless in the face of punishing thoughts and feelings!
  1. You have the right to walk through this life without any fear of what may await you ahead.
  1. Your original Self is already timeless and whole; any part of us that urges us to look for a bigger, better, or brighter sense of Self outside the present moment is both the seed of deception, as well as its bitter fruit, anxiety.
  1. Anxious thoughts and feelings are not there to help us reach the promised land. Instead, they keep us a prisoner in the world of their empty promises. The courage to see the truth of this fact is the same as the courage we need to be free . . . to consciously walk away from these impostor powers.
  1. What we are now, and the kind of life we will come to know, is very much determined by the “interior” company we keep.
  1. Just as you can’t cage a lion in a child’s crib, no negative state can keep you its captive once you’ve seen it for what it really is—nothing without your consent.
  1. The first step to releasing ourselves from any sense of being in a rut begins with seeing this truth: The real nature of what we call our “daily grind” is really just our own mind telling itself, over and over again, how much it wishes things would change.
  1. By reclaiming our attention—by bringing ourselves back into the present moment—we are released from our unconscious relationship with the past, putting its pain behind us, where it belongs.
  1. It’s our right to remember what we want to remember, instead of what we are being given to remember!
  1. The unimaginable reward of persisting through whatever stands in your way is the eventual—the inevitable—discovery of this fundamental truth:

You are not only created to change, you are free to do so anytime you choose! @guy_finley (Click to Tweet!)

Guy Finley is an internationally renowned spiritual teacher and bestselling self-help author. He is the Founder and Director of Life of Learning Foundation, a nonprofit center for transcendent self-study located in Merlin, Oregon. He also hosts the Foundation’s Wisdom School — an on-line self-discovery program for seekers of higher self-knowledge. He is the best-selling author of The Secret of Letting Go and 45 other books and audio programs that have sold over 2 million copies, in 26 languages, worldwide. Guy’s latest book Relationship Magic: Waking Up Together applies decades of spiritual wisdom to practical relationship challenges, transforming any relationship from mundane to magical!

Image courtesy of YIFEI CHEN.

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“If you really look closely, most overnight successes took a long time.” — Steve Jobs #confidence #selfesteem #selfconfidence #selflove #mindset #mindsetiseverything #mindsetmatters #lawofattraction #lawofvibration #quotes #quoteoftheday #quotestoliveby #quotestagram #quotesdaily #positive #positivethinking #quotestoremember

"If you really look closely, most overnight successes took a long time." — Steve Jobs #confidence #selfesteem #selfconfidence #selflove
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Do You Agree That These “Patterns” Make Places Beautiful and Comfortable?

Few books have made such an impression on me and the way that I think. Christopher Alexander’s brilliant, strange book, A Pattern Language sets forth an archetypal “language” of 253 patterns that make the design of towns, buildings, and–most interesting to me–homes the most pleasing.

This book doesn’t need to be read from front to back; I often just flip through it and study the parts that resonate with me–and look at the pictures, too, of course.

I’m a very text-centric person, and not very visual, and this book helped me to identify the elements about spaces that I like, or don’t like. I’m able to see the world in a new way, and as a consequence, I’ve been able to do some things differently in my own space, to make it more enjoyable.

Here’s a list of some of the “patterns” that I love most–and I even love the aptness of the phrases used to describe them:

Half-hidden garden–this is an example of something that I love but just can’t put into practice in New York City, alas.

Staircase as stage–ditto.

Cascade of roofs–once I started looking, I realized that many of my favorite buildings had a cascade of roofs.

Sleeping to the east–after my parents moved to a new place, they both remarked, independently, how much they enjoyed having a bedroom that faced east.

A room of one’s own–yes!

Light on two sides of every room–after I moved to New York City, I became acutely aware of the importance of light, and it’s true, having light on two sides of a room makes a huge difference.

Six foot balcony–this pattern explained something that had always puzzled me: why people in New York City apartment buildings seemed so rarely to use their balconies. It turns out that when a balcony is too narrow, people don’t feel comfortable on it. It needs to be at least six feet deep.

Windows overlooking life–our apartment has good light, which I’m so thankful for, but we can’t look down on any street scenes, just the sides of buildings; it’s surprising how much we miss being able to overlook life.

Sitting circle–odd to me how many people place their furniture in ways that don’t make for comfortable conversation.

Ceiling height variety–I was astonished to notice how much more I enjoy places that have ceilings at different heights.

Built-in seats–yes! Window seats, alcoves, banquettes, love these. Especially window seats.

Raised flowers–yes!

Things from your life–in Happier at Home, I “cultivated a shrine” to my passion for children’s literature, as a way to make a special place for certain things from my life (for instance, my old copies of Cricket magazine, my complete set of The Wizard of Oz books, my mother’s old copy of Little Women, my Gryffindor banner that a friend brought me from the Harry Potter Theme Park.

Child caves–so true that children love to play in small, low places. My sister had the “Cozy Club” with a friend, and my younger daughter now plays in an odd little space she has decorated.

Secret place–ah, this is my favorite. Again, as I write about in Happier at Home, I was inspired to create my own secret places in our apartment. I couldn’t stop with just one. As Alexander writes, “Where can the need for concealment be expressed; the need to hide; the need for something precious to be lost, and then revealed?”

How about you? Have you identified some “patterns” in the design of the places you love?

Gretchen Rubin is the author of the #1 New York Times Bestseller The Happiness Project—an account of the year she spent test-driving the wisdom of the ages, current scientific studies, and lessons from popular culture about how to be happier—and the recently released Happier at Home and Better Than Before. On her popular blog, The Happiness Project, she reports on her daily adventures in the pursuit of happiness. For more doses of happiness and other happenings, follow Gretchen on Facebook and Twitter.

Image courtesy of Toa Heftiba.

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