WOW Word-Of-the-Week #399: Regret

March 27, 2012 by  

Regret – a feeling of disappointment or distress about something that one wishes could be different.

Do you wish anything in your life were different? Do you have any unfulfilled dreams? Do you ever feel disappointed about choices you have or have not made?

Bill Marvin, the Restaurant Doctor, recently featured excerpts from Bronnie Ware’s book, “The Top Five Regrets of the Dying – A Life Transformed by the Dearly Departing.” In his weekly House Call he wrote, “An article like this may seem a bit out of place, but the reason I do what I do is to help improve your quality of life. Some of that is professional and some — like this piece — is more personal. Her observations really had me reflecting on my own habits (particularly #2) and I’m making some adjustments while I still can.

I am going to share the five most common regrets in my next three WOW’s

Bronnie Ware says, “For many years I worked in palliative care. My patients were those who had gone home to die. Some incredibly special times were shared. I was with them for the last three to twelve weeks of their lives.

People grow a lot when they are faced with their own mortality. I learnt never to underestimate someone’s capacity for growth. Some changes were phenomenal. Each experienced a variety of emotions, as expected, denial, fear, anger, remorse, more denial and eventually acceptance. Every single patient found their peace before they departed though, every one of them.

When questioned about any regrets they had or anything they would do differently, common themes surfaced again and again.

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. When people realise 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 honoured even a half of their dreams and had to die knowing that it was due to choices they had made, or not made.

It is very important to try and honour at least some of your dreams along the way. From the moment that you lose your health, it is too late. Health brings a freedom very few realise, until they no longer have it.”

This week’s focus is on regret. Is it time to make some adjustments? Are you living your life based on someone else’s expectations? What would it take for you to fulfill those dreams you have put off?

Reader Responses

“A lot of my friends refer to me as “lucky” because of how I live ( on the water in winter in Yelapa, at Lake Tahoe in the summer). And because I retired at 52. Luck has nothing to do with it. Luck is preparedness meeting opportunity. It’s a matter of making choices after you figure out what you want. Doesn’t mean I wouldn’t have done some things differently given a second chance, but I have remarkably few regrets, now that I think about it. I think some famous American Indian said “Today is a good day to die”. Pretty much sums up how I feel.” – Bob

“Great word. After my younger brother died at age 37, I told my wife that I had no regrets because I had always made sure that he was a part of my life. I always made sure that we attended college basketball games, concerts and other events. And I made it a point to always remember him on his birthday and call on a regular basis. To me, these were the basics in a sibling relationship that was affected by our age differences. I always enjoyed talking to him and hearing his point of view. When he did leave this world, I could look back positively on the times we shared, and I could truly say that I had no regrets. Maybe that is why I was able to stay strong for my wife and family at the funeral and eulogize his life in an upbeat way. It was hard, but because I did not have any regrets, it was a lot easier. Like anyone else in life, I wish some things had worked out differently, but I have always had the feeling that I made the most of every opportunity in my life. The one important point in your piece was the importance of health. While I have never won the lottery in my life, I always feel that my health is my million dollars. The good health that I have will allow me to do many things in the balance of my life. Finally, acceptance of life on life’s terms is so important. Not having that acceptance makes living difficult. I am so grateful for it. Thanks, Susan. Have a wonderful Easter. Take care.” – “Warrior” Joe