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The Top Regret of the Dying

Finding Purpose and Meaning in Life: Insights from the Top Regret of the Dying

By KamyaPublished 9 months ago 3 min read
Sandy Millar on Unsplash

Bronnie Ware, an Australian palliative care nurse, spent much of her career caring for people with serious illnesses and listening to their deathbed regrets.

In 2012, she wrote a book titled "The Top Five Regrets of the Dying: A Life Transformed by the Dearly Departing," which reveals the most common regrets that people express in their final moments.

The number one regret of the dying, according to Ware's book, is "I wish I had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me." This regret serves as a painful reminder that many of us spend our lives trying to live up to false standards and doing things that we don't actually enjoy. We often prioritize the opinions of others over our own desires and passions.

American psychologist Tim Kasser's research supports this idea. Dr. Kasser's work includes articles covering various topics such as materialism, values, goals, and well-being. His work suggests that wealth and status do not necessarily lead to well-being, and may even have the opposite effect. Contrary to popular belief, happiness is not solely a result of materialistic pursuits.

Dr.Kasser has identified two types of motivation that drive people: intrinsic and extrinsic. Intrinsic motivation refers to doing something because we enjoy it and it brings us joy. For example, playing the piano because we love the way it sounds or painting because we find it meditative.

Extrinsic motivation, on the other hand, refers to doing something for external rewards or recognition, such as money, status, or praise from others.

Research shows that people who pursue intrinsic goals display higher levels of well-being than those who focus solely on extrinsic goals, such as social status or wealth. Those who are driven primarily by external rewards often neglect their own intrinsic values and passions, which can lead to mental health issues like anxiety and depression.

Often, we disguise our fear of living the life we desire as a belief in meritocracy and a need for acceptance. Many people have a deep sense of what they truly desire in life, but circumstances or societal pressures prevent them from pursuing their passions.

Society conditions us to prioritize fitting in and meeting external expectations, rather than nurturing our own intrinsic values and desires.

Ware's book suggests that we should focus on living a life that aligns with our true selves, rather than trying to meet the expectations of others.

This means prioritizing our own passions and desires, and not being afraid to pursue the things that truly bring us joy. If we focus on living the life we want, we may be able to avoid the other regrets on Ware's list.

When we approach life with the intention of fulfilling our own desires, we are more likely to live a life with fewer regrets.

As Ware's book shows, when people look back on their lives in their final moments, they don't think about how well they fit in or how many followers they have on social media. Instead, they reflect on whether they lived a life that was true to themselves and whether they pursued the things that truly mattered to them.

In conclusion, the number one regret of the dying is a powerful reminder that we should prioritize living a life that aligns with our true selves. We should focus on our intrinsic values and passions, rather than external expectations and societal pressures. By doing so, we may be able to live a life with fewer regrets and more joy. So the next time you're faced with an important decision, ask yourself: who are you doing it for?

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About the Creator


We should enjoy every moment fully, fall in love, make the most of our time, and live without regret. We should cherish the fact that there are still many moments in life that we have yet to experience for the last time.

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