Live a life you won’t regret.

Bronnie Ware is an Australian palliative care nurse who looks after patients in the last twelve weeks of their lives.  She has turned a blog about her conversations with these individuals into a book entitled The Top Five Regrets of the Dying published by Hay House in the UK.

Everyone needs to reflect on what this means for their own lives and how they are currently living:

1-Trying to be what others wanted you to be. Are you too busy trying to be what everyone else wants you to be rather than being true to yourself?  How much do we help young people identify who they want to be rather than focus on getting the grades that will ensure they get high status jobs. The top regret was not living your own dreams but trying to live up to everyone else’s view of who you should be.

2- Letting work take over your life. Is your work taking over your life?  Men in particular regretted how much work had invaded their lives to the extent of missing out on being with their families and watching their young children grow.  We live in a society which undervalues what really matters…and I am not convinced that the extended time that many people are expected to be in the workplace is working smart – perhaps they are just conforming to a culture of being seen in the office. Hurrah for the male CEO who goes home at 5pm to spend an hour or two with his kids – even if he gets to his emails later in the evening. A great model for the rest of the company.

3-Colluding with things we don’t agree with. Do you suppress what you feel to keep the peace?  Quite often the dominant voices are the negative ones and we let them just get on with it – not realising that by doing so we collude with things we don’t agree with. You don’t have to yell or lose your temper but state what you feel calmly – you’re entitled.  And you will feel better for it.  The dying said that suppressing their feelings led to a more mediocre life and often resulted in ill health  Social and emotional learning is having a higher priority in our schools these days so young people will be learning better how to express themselves well and safely.

4-Losing touch with friends– Do you contact your friends regularly – even if just to check on how they are doing? Not keeping in touch with friends was a deep regret for many.  Friends do much to keep us psychologically well – they share the sad times and celebrate the good times – make sure you are a good friend to them.

5-Seeing the glass as half empty rather half full. The last regret that Bronnie identified is a surprising one.  People regretted not allowing themselves to be happier.  This is the stuff of positive psychology – keep things in perspective and don’t sweat the small stuff, be grateful for what you have rather than bemoan what you don’t and allow yourself to play, laugh and be in the moment!

Author: Dr Sue Roffey, Director Wellbeing Australia. Wellbeing Australia is a sponsor of the Generation Next Mental Health & Wellbeing Seminars 2012

Mental Health & Wellbeing of Young People Seminars