Living Well: Insights on Regrets to Avoid

Skookumchuck Narrows Copyright Shelagh DonnellyWhile, technically speaking, we have almost three weeks of summer yet to enjoy, it’s back to school time for students and their families. Scads of welcome tourists – such as the friendly folks from south of the border whose convertible’s vanity license plate encouraged people in our neigbourhood a couple of weeks ago to “MN8 LUV” – visit beautiful Vancouver throughout the year, but we’re already finding the beaches less crowded. With the close of the gates on this year’s annual PNE (Pacific National Exhibition) and the end of the Labour Day weekend, we’re marking the unofficial conclusion of one season, and the beginning of Fall.

There’s a shift, too, in the workplace come September. Offices ramp back up to capacity and, while some colleagues look ridiculously refreshed and relaxed – to the extent that others may warn, with a knowing chuckle, that a week or so back at the grind should take care of that – the return to business norms also sees many of us resuming workplace habits that may not be to our benefit.

We may revert to working through lunch breaks rather than investing time in exercise, conversation with a friend, a good read or a bit of retail therapy. Rather than mentally calling an end to the business day by departing for home, dinner, an evening stroll and good company, you may find yourself staying late or taking work home. Are you about to return to  short changing yourself or your loved ones in this respect?

On a broader scale, we may do well to heed insights that Aussie and Inspiration and Chai blogger Bronnie Ware gained through her experience as a palliative care nurse. Caring for patients in their final weeks of life, she learned that the “phenomenal clarity of vision that people gain at the end of their lives” enabled them to identify regrets and aspects of their lives that they would manage differently given the opportunity. Ware found common themes repeatedly surfacing, and her findings and blog have garnered enough interest that she’s since written a book, The Top Five Regrets of the Dying.


Reflecting on your life: one occasion when the overused phrase “At the end of the day …” is warranted

“I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me” this is the regret shared by most; with their good health gone, people belatedly realised that, due to choices they had made or neglected to make, they’d lived without honouring even half their dreams

“I wish I hadn’t worked so hard”individuals regretted missing their partner’s companionship and their children’s youth; while not all the female patients had worked outside the home, all the male patients deeply regretted their treadmill existence in the workplace

“I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings” –  people who suppressed their feelings in order to keep the peace found that they had settled for a mediocre existence; Ware observed that, as a result, “many developed illnesses relating to the bitterness and resentment they carried”

“I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends”people often recognised the importance of maintaining old friendships only in their final weeks of life; having lost track, not all patients were able to track down people who had held important places in their lives. Ware offered, “Everyone misses their friends when they are dying.”

“I wish that I had let myself be happier”fear of change led many to hold on to the comfort of old habits and patterns that affected their emotions and physical lives; for many, it wasn’t until the end of their lives that they realised that happiness is a choice. People longed for the most simple of pleasures: to once again enjoy a bit of silliness, and to laugh properly.

How might you ensure peace, love and healthy doses of silliness and laughter in your life?


As we embark on the season that typically reflects a return to learning, and seeking of knowledge, is this also your time for reflection and self-assessment? Are you already carrying some of these – or other – regrets, and what might you do differently given that the opportunity is yours for the taking?

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