Four words can be the difference between a life well lived and a life filled with regret.
Visibly distraught, the young woman lamented:
“I tried and I failed. What do I do now?”
The old man fell silent. He stood up and leaned over the bench to pluck a white flower from the garden floor. He sat back down. Gently fiddling with its petals, he looked at her and said:
“All that matters, love, is that you were brave enough to try.” He paused to stretch his arm out and hand her the flower.
“You won’t understand this now, but in twenty years, you’ll be so glad you did.”
The Top Five Regrets of the Dying
Bronnie Ware is an Australian nurse who spent a number of years caring for patients nearing the end of their time on earth.
When she’d questioned her patients about any regrets they had or anything they would have done differently, Bronnie noted that five common themes surfaced again and again.
Years later, in her book, she identified “The Top Five Regrets of the Dying.”
- I wish I hadn’t worked so much.
- I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings.
- I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.
- I wish that I had let myself be happier.
And the most common regret is this:
5. 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,” noted Bronnie. “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.”
Facing their own mortality, realizing that their life is on the verge of its expiry, they looked back and thought: How many of my dreams have gone unfulfilled?
The Four Words Standing Between You and Regret
In the future, we will regret the actions we didn’t take more so than the ones we did.
We will regret the book we didn’t try to write; but had we done so, we would’ve fulfilled our dream of becoming a writer. We will regret the side project we didn’t find the courage to pursue; but had we done so, it could’ve perhaps transformed into a thriving and successful business.
In their research on regret that was published in 1995, Gilovich & Medvec concluded that
“when people look back on their lives, it is the things they have not done that generate the greatest regret… People’s actions may be troublesome initially; it is their inactions that plague them most with long-term feelings of regret.”
In short, today’s inactions will translate into tomorrow’s regrets.
What you’re too afraid to do today, twenty years from now, you’ll most probably wish you had done.
Don’t let that happen. Choose to live a life that’s true to you. And what does that entail?
It’s a life lived fully, without fear. It’s a life lived with purpose, without hesitation. It’s a life where you find the courage within you to follow your calling and dare to give it all your energy.
It’s a life where you create your own definition of success.
It’s a life lived with meaning and purpose where your priorities are to work in balance, where you fully express your true feelings, where you stay in touch with the people you love and you allow yourself to be happy with how things progress.
It’s a life where, through the unfolding years, you don’t say:
“I wish I had.”
And instead, you say:
“I’m glad I did.”
I’m glad I wrote that book. It didn’t generate many sales, but it set me on a path to write my second book and that was a best-seller.
I’m glad I launched my own clothing line. It took three years of sacrifice and hard work, but today, five years later, I’m living my dream.
The Secret to Living Without Regret
“I wish I had” vs. “I’m glad I did”. These four words will be the difference between a life well lived and a life filled with regret.
Perhaps we won’t understand it now. But as per Mark Twain’s words:
“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones that you did do.”
This is what I remind myself when I struggle as an entrepreneur. This is what I remind myself when I struggle as a writer. I don’t know the outcome, but I’ll keep on trying, because, in twenty years, while others say “I wish I did”, I’ll look back and proudly say, “I’m glad, I did”.
So, ask yourself this question:
In twenty years, what will I regret?
Source: Medium, Mind Cafe
Author: Omar Itani
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