My good friend, Tommy Skelly, will often proclaim that some thing or event is in his “Top 5.” For example, Top 5 Root Beer Floats, Top 5 Golf Courses, Top 5 Bus Rides, or Top 5 Showers (for pressure). So when I see a Top 5 list, I always think of Tommy. Bronnie Ware’s Top 5 list is a little different. While Tom’s are often a celebration (those he will occasionally throw out a Top 5 Worst), Ware’s list is a caution. Bronnie Ware is a former palliative care nurse who wrote a book about her experiences caring for the dying entitled, The Top Five Regrets of the Dying: A Life Transformed by the Dearly Departing. According to Ware, the Top 5 Regrets are:
I Wish I’d Lived a Life True to Myself, Not the Life Others Expected of Me
I Wish I’d Had the Courage to Express My Feelings
I Wish I Had Stayed in Touch With My Friends
I Wish I Had Allowed Myself to Be Happier
I Wish I Hadn’t Worked so Hard
Before I continue, I want to let you know I am not big on regret. I am in the No Regrets club. I find little value in lamenting the failures of the past or roads not taken. I am planning to be on my death bed joyful that I got every bit I could from my life. It probably won’t surprise you that not everyone (maybe you?) feels the way I do about regret. In fact, last year, Daniel Pink wrote “The Power of Regret: How Looking Backward Moves Us Forward” arguing that regret has value. Pink says, “Regret is not dangerous or abnormal. It is healthy and universal, an integral part of being human. Equally important, regret is valuable. It clarifies. It instructs. Done right, it needn’t drag us down; it can lift us up.” Pink is suggesting that we use our feelings of sadness and disappointment over past events as a lesson to move forward in a different way. I can appreciate that Pink’s perspective may be helpful to some folks while not subscribing to it myself. Especially if I am going down. There will be no lessons to learned, to be acted upon at that date. So, how do we avoid these regrets?
As I read Bronnie Ware’s list, my thoughts went to another list of 5 items…The MenLiving 5 Suggestions. Please don’t roll your eyes! I am not about to tell you that if you follow our Suggestions you will be Top 5 regret-free on your death bed, but…compare the lists. As a reminder, we suggest to live more fully, one live:
Can you see what I am talking about? How does the exercise make you feel? Any takeaways? For me, I am going to continue to try to live present in the moment and with these Suggestions top of mind. I am bought in that I can avoid the Top Five Regrets of the Dying by adopting the Five Suggestions for Living Fully (or might we call them the Five Suggestions for Dying without Regret). What do you think??