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RICHMOND, Va. (BP) -- Woulda, coulda, shoulda.
Regret is a painful thing. We look back on the foolish things we have done and the good things we have left undone. We lament wasted years, wrong attitudes, hurts inflicted on others, missed opportunities.
Bronnie Ware, an Australian nurse, spent years caring for patients in their last days. She identified the most common regrets they expressed about their lives in an article, and later a book, titled "The Top Five Regrets of the Dying." They are:
1. "I wish I'd had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me."
"This was the most common regret of all," Ware writes. "When people realize that their life is almost over and look back clearly on it, it is easy to see how many dreams have gone unfulfilled. Most people had not honored even half of their dreams and had to die knowing that it was due to choices they had made, or not made."
2. "I wish I hadn't worked so hard."
"This came from every male patient that I nursed," Ware reports. "They missed their children's youth and their partner's companionship. Women also spoke of this regret. But as most were from an older generation, many of the female patients had not been breadwinners. All of the men I nursed deeply regretted spending so much of their lives on the treadmill of a work existence."
3. "I wish I'd had the courage to express my feelings."
Many people regretted staying silent or living dishonest lives just to "keep the peace" with others. They often developed illnesses from bitterness and resentment.
4. "I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends."
Ware: "Many had become so caught up in their own lives that they had let golden friendships slip by over the years. ... It all comes down to love and relationships in the end" -- not money, things or accomplishments.
5. "I wish that I had let myself be happier."
Many people failed to realize until it was nearly too late that happiness is a choice, Ware discovered. They willingly remained in the bondage of patterns and habits that were familiar, yet brought little contentment.
I'll add a few more regrets that I have experienced. Perhaps you have some, too: Continued...