Perhaps it is just me, but don't you think the days, weeks, and months seem to fly by? Here we are in March and enjoying the signs of spring and it seems like Christmas was just here. As I reflect upon how quickly time passes, I realize that these are the days of my life passing. This causes me to ponder and ask, "Did I spend this day, week or month doing the things that are important? Am I living a life of no regrets?" Am I able to look at my day and say, "I'm glad I did that today." Or, do I find myself saying, " I wish I had done something else today".
Bronnie Ware is an Australian nurse who worked caring for patients in the last 12 weeks of their lives.  She observed and recorded the regrets of the dying. She writes of the clarity of vision one gains at the end of their life and what we can learn from their wisdom. She says, "When questioned about any regrets they had or anything they would do differently, common themes surfaced again and again."
Here are the top five regrets of dying patients as recorded by Ware.
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. So ask yourself, "Am I the person I want to be? Am I doing the things that bring me joy? Am I working on goals that enrich my life?"
It is possible to have the courage needed to be true to yourself and to seek your dreams and goals. Don't let anyone, not even yourself, convince you that you don't have what it takes to accomplish what you desire to do and become. If you move forward day by day, little by little you will grow into the person that you want to be. Yes, it's much easier to be content with where you are now. It's much easier not to strive for goals that require time and sacrifice. It's much easier to just come home at the end of the day and park in front of the TV and zone out.
One should not be afraid to pursue dreams because of the chance of making a mistake or the possibility of experiencing failure. Some of life's greatest lessons come from mistakes or failures. Move ahead and never give up. Sometimes we may get stuck here because we haven't let go of past mistakes. We all make mistakes and sometimes they are big ones. However, we can learn from our mistakes, try to repair them, forgive ourselves and move on. Or, we can choose to dwell on our mistakes, live in our past, get stuck in the pain, and waste the precious days of our lives living in a negative way.
You can be true to the greatness that is in you. Just go forward a little each day and amazing things will be accomplished. Enjoy the journey of becoming who you want to be at this point in your life.
2. I wish I hadn't worked so hard.
The patients expressed concern here that they spent so much of their time in the daily grind of work that they had lost out on time spent with their loved ones. They felt they had missed many opportunities to make memories with their family and friends. They missed developing connections to those important people in their lives.
We live in a work culture now that pushes many almost to the breaking point. Often employees are expected to far exceed the normal 40-hour workweek to "get ahead" in their jobs and their companies. Many are expected to travel extensively, which takes them away from home. It is a difficult balancing act to provide for one's family both financially and emotionally when jobs are so demanding.
Perhaps some questions we can ask ourselves here are, "Am I present when I'm with my family members? Do I give my personal self and undivided attention to those that are important to me? Do I spend meaningful time with those I love? Am I building connections and memories that will be cherished through the years?"
3. I wish I'd had the courage to express my feelings.
Bronnie Ware's patients indicated that they often suppressed their feelings to keep peace with others. This created bitterness and resentment as a result. Some felt that they settled for a mediocre existence and never became who they were truly capable of becoming.
I wonder if these patients were also unable to express positive feelings of love and friendship to others. I wonder if they expressed gratitude. Perhaps they didn't express these feelings either. These are the feelings that link us to others in a positive way.
4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.
Friendships are important. However, life is so busy it is easy to let time distance us from our friends. Many of the patients indicated that they felt deep regrets about not giving friendships the time and effort they deserved. Think about the friendships you value. Have you checked in with your old friends to see how they are doing? Have you made time to visit with any of your friends that you haven't seen for awhile? If friendships are important to you, think of something you can do to stay connected to your friends. I love to connect with my friends that I don't see often, by going to lunch or dinner with them.
I have a group of some very wonderful friends which I have known for many years from a past neighborhood. Now we are scattered and live great distances from each other. We formed a book club many years ago that still goes on today. We get together to visit, chat, and share life. Sometimes we even read and discuss the book for that month, although that is not a prerequisite to getting together. I cherish my book club friends. They are there for me in good times and bad. I expect that our friendships will go on into our old age.
5. I wish that I had let myself be happier.
I'm a firm believer that happiness is a daily choice. It is not based on the things you own, the job you have, how well your children behave or any external things. Many people have all these things and more, yet they are not happy. Many people have very little and enjoy life daily and are very happy. Ware says of her patients, "Many did not realize until the end, that happiness is a choice. They had stayed stuck in old patterns and habits."
Abraham Lincoln said, “Folks are usually about as happy as they make their minds up to be.”
So, as I come full circle back to the days, weeks, and months quickly passing, I want to live my life in a way that I won't have regrets now or in the future. I hope to laugh, sing and dance in the rain. I desire to spend time making memories with those I love. I want to be able to say: "I'm glad I did that", not "I wish I had done that." I would like to enjoy and learn from the journey, whether in the sunshine or storm of life. I hope to make a difference in the world. I want to be missed when I am gone. I seek to live with no regrets.
Enjoy living strong.