Last week I was listening to my friend and collaborator Nicole Christina’s podcast interview with Bronnie Ware, author of the book The Top Five Regrets of the Dying. Ware spent years as a palliative care nurse and later wrote a blog post about the wisdom she gained from speaking with many folks at the end of life. That post went viral, and she eventually went on to turn that post into a book.
These are the top five regrets that Ware says were mentioned most frequently by people in their last moments:
I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.
I wish I hadn’t worked so hard.
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.
I wrote last week about how self-acceptance can help in your decluttering efforts: coming to terms with yourself as you are right now and the season of life that you are in can help you get rid of the things that are not serving you. So many of our purchases are made for an aspirational self, a person who doesn’t really exist but is who we think we should be. This speaks to the number one regret of the dying: not living a life that is true to ourselves.
The fact that this is cited most often by folks at the end of life speaks to how difficult it is to truly be ourselves. As humans we are social creatures, and seeking the approval of others is a powerful and adaptive behavior. But coming to the end of our short time on earth feeling regret for not actually living is a terrible thing. It’s something we need to keep in mind while we can still do something about it.
If your home is filled with items that don’t serve you, it might be a sign that you are not living a life that is true to you. You can cultivate this practice by starting with your stuff: try tuning in to what really serves you, the real you. And the things that don’t make the cut? Let a few of them go. You may find that if you create an environment that serves your truest self, you will have the courage to actually live that life. Because shouldn’t that be our goal: to live a life without regrets?
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Make it fab!