Inspire Me: Top 5 Regrets of the Dying – Bronnie Ware

The Inspire Me series of posts consist of other people’s blog posts I have found extremely valuable and insightful. I will quote extensively from these posts while adding my own comments as to why these works are worth reading, sharing, and re-visiting. I share these posts in the hope that they, too, can inspire you as much as they have me.

If you were to die right now, what would be your top regret?

Five Regrets Book Cover

Cover of Bronnie Ware’s Top Five Regrets of the Dying book. Click to view her other books.

That’s the question Bronnie Ware asked people over the years. Except she wasn’t asking a hypothetical question, she asked people who were actually about to die.

Bronnie was an aspiring musician that needed a side-gig to make ends meet. But she also happened to be a compassionate soul. So instead of taking any conventional job, she applied to be a live-in carer for those who were terminally ill. What started as a part-time job turned into an eight year education in the business of life. Taking care of and talking to the dying positively shaped Bronnie as a person and entirely changed her outlook on life. She summarized and shared the lessons she have learned from the people she cared for in a blog post called Regrets of the Dying. A few years later, her little post attracted millions of viewers and landed her a book deal. So without further ado, below is the top five regrets of the dying in her own words:

5. I wish that I had let myself be happier.

“This is a surprisingly common one. Many did not realise until the end that happiness is a choice. They had stayed stuck in old patterns and habits. The so-called ‘comfort’ of familiarity overflowed into their emotions, as well as their physical lives. Fear of change had them pretending to others, and to their selves, that they were content. When deep within, they longed to laugh properly and have silliness in their life again.”

4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.

“There were many deep regrets about not giving friendships the time and effort that they deserved. Everyone misses their friends when they are dying.”

“It is common for anyone in a busy lifestyle to let friendships slip. But when you are faced with your approaching death, the physical details of life fall away… It all comes down to love and relationships in the end. That is all that remains in the final weeks, love and relationships.”

3. I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings.

“Many people suppressed their feelings in order to keep peace with others. As a result, they settled for a mediocre existence and never became who they were truly capable of becoming. Many developed illnesses relating to the bitterness and resentment they carried as a result.”

2. I wish I didn’t work so hard.

“This came from every male patient that I nursed. 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.”

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 honored 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.”

Read the full article here.

This blog post reminds us that we are all going to die some day, but it’s better to have lived and died than to never have lived at all. Live your life in such a way that you will not have regrets in the end. Also, if and when you can, encourage and help others to do the same.

At the end of her post, she leaves us with this sage advice:

“Life is a choice. It is YOUR life. Choose consciously, choose wisely, choose honestly. Choose happiness.”

Bronnie Ware is now a full time writer, musician, and inspirational speaker. She continues to live a life without regrets and continues to spread joy and positivity around the world. For more information on Bronnie Ware and to read more of her writings, please visit her official website at


About eleganthinker

A philosopher in practice, but a poet at heart.
This entry was posted in Inspiration, Philosophy and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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