Living without regrets

Glenorchy on FireTime is a funny thing. It passes so quickly, and today I had one of those experiences where your life passes before your eyes.

It was raining heavily and I was taking my car to be inspected. Someone made a sharp left turn in front of me, and I slammed on the brakes.

That was the moment when snippets of my life flashed in my mind.

I am happy to report that the anti-lock brakes worked perfectly, and a tragedy was avoided. Afterwards, I started to think about the Five Regrets of the Dying.

Bronnie Ware was a hospice nurse where she spent time with people who were dying. During this experience, she noticed that many people had similar regrets and she categorized them in her book The Top Five Regrets of the Dying. Let’s take a look.

The top five regrets of the dying:

  1.  I wish I had the courage to live a life true to myself, instead of the life others expected of me.
  2.  I wish I hadn’t worked so hard (or much).
  3.  I wish I had the courage to express my feelings.
  4.  I wish I stayed in touch with my friends.
  5.  I wish I let myself be happier.

As I reflect on my morning drive, I know that I can live my life without regrets, knowing that time is a precious thing, and that accidents do happen; every day, all the time. So how might I live my life without regrets? Jenny Nichols has some great suggestions (40 of them!) about how to live without regrets. Among them are:

cultivating a sense of gratitude
taking care of yourself
relaxing with family and friends
becoming the person you’d like to spend the rest of your life with
treating yourself and others with dignity, respect, and compassion
doing something every day that makes you feel proud

So today, I am grateful for family and friends. I am proud of how I have embraced change over the last year, and I’m exploring the idea of becoming the person I’d like to spend the rest of my life with. How about you?


  • Thanks for reminding me of these things, Lola. And thanks for modeling an embrace of them for us.
    I’d be curious to know if these five things are consistent over generations or across cultures. For instance, is the “work so hard (or much)” as applicable to millennials as to boomers?


    • That’s a good question about cultures and generations. I really don’t know the answer, but I suspect that there would definitely be differences. The compilation of top regrets was biased towards dying adults in the US who could afford hospice services, so I suspect their might be class differences as well.


  • I just love these little wake-up calls from life. So glad no one was hurt (esp. you!), and that the incident served a greater purpose of contemplation and gratitude. This is mindful living. Not necessarily having answers, but waking up a bit more each day and asking better questions. Rock on, sister!


  • Thanks for this lovely post, luminous like the photo that goes with it. I’m curious about how you have embraced change over the last year.


    • Well, in the last year, I have left a full-time job with benefits, moved to a new apartment, and started my own counseling practice, just to name a few. Plus I have this website and I’m blogging!


  • Hi Lola Just read Living without regrets. Will try to practice this more. See you at Emir.


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