It’s Your Life

It’s Your Life

A friend of mine recently sent me an e-mail of an article written by Australian writer, singer, and songwriter Bronnie Ware. I have a special appreciation for Bronnie, who takes pride in her diverse background and vast life experiences.

“From being a corporate employee to nursing the dying, teaching songwriting in a women's prison, and many things in between, Bronnie's journey has been a fascinating one” (ezine article, November 14, 2009).
In one article, she discusses the regrets that people typically express once they know they are dying. I list the top five below:

1. I wish I'd had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.

2. I wish I didn't work so hard.

3. I wish I'd had the courage to express my feelings.

4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.

5. I wish that I had let myself be happier.

Now, I thought about these regrets long and hard, and here is how I relate them to my life:

1. When I was young, I did not realize I had a choice. For me, it was not a matter of courage, but ignorance. Once I recognized my life was just that – mine – I was off to the races. No regrets here.

2. There were times in my early years I worked at jobs I did not enjoy. Not so any more. I will keep working as long as I can – only at what I love.

3. Never my problem.

4. Of the five regrets, this one disturbs me the most, but I don’t blame myself. I would love to spend more time with all my friends, but so many of them have reasons why they cannot: wives, husbands, kids, jobs, money, time, stress, obligations, plans, school, chores, and in my opinion, life itself. I would love to spend more time with my friends, and they with me. I am still ready. No regrets here.

5. If I let myself get any happier, I might die laughing. I don’t feel the need to apologize for my joy in life. My life might not be perfect, but it is mine and I’m happy, with no regrets.

As Bronnie says, “Life is a choice. It is YOUR life. Choose consciously, choose wisely, choose honestly. Choose happiness.”

What about you? Do you have the same five regrets?


  1. Dear JJ,

    I always like to read your texts and I look forward reading them when they appear in this blog (and I can have access to them). From the regrets mentioned, the one I do not have any regret is 2. I think if I worked hard, it was good, and that applies to most of the people. Today, looking back, I admit that in some periods I worked too much without a reward to me or to the others. But I do not regret that and I think hard working is always good, even if we thing that it is not so in the short period.

  2. I think we all have regrets.. regrets come after we realize what we coulda, woulda, shoulda... We can't go back so why waste time regretting? To me, its what we do w/the future... Learn from the past, move on...

  3. FanaticoUm: I agree. Too many, I fear, have lost work ethic. Good work builds character.

    KBF: I have no regrets. I would have done many things differently, but I don't regret my actions because good or bad, they made me what I am.

  4. Well, I regret that I am not REALLY, REALLY, RICH! I wouldn't mind in the least paying more taxes to ease the burden of people less fortunate. Being charitable is my ticket to Heaven, and it FEELS SOOOO GOOD! I just wish I could be charitable in a financial way, so people won't go hungry, or lose their houses, or have the medicine they need.

    I do have some personal regrets, but I don't want to share them right now. If one lives long enough, one just might come to the realization that what one THOUGHT was a regret turned out to be a pretty good decision in the long run.

  5. Judie: You are really, really, rich.

  6. Um, kinda wish I could shut #3 off sometimes, haha. I could do better on #4...

    It's very cool you're living w/ no regrets. You are truly blessed. :)

  7. Nicki: I am with you on #3, and #4 is always a problem - if one has friends.

  8. 'If I let myself get any happier, I might die laughing.'

    That is lovely.

    I do not have the same five regrets. Regret, I have learned, is something one typically feels when they expect perfection out of life. I don't. So, no regrets.

    Hey, check it out. A sunrise.

  9. This is so perfect....and I have a few people right on the top of my head that could really value this clip....what a wonderful way to live...and I try everyday to make it better than yesterday, sometimes we do, sometimes we slip's just that we have to keep getting up and keep going at it....everyday is a gift !

  10. At this point, I don't think that I have any regrets. Every mistake I have made (and there have been many), I have learned from and tried to improve myself thereafter...I hope anyway. I am very grateful to say that I am happy too!!
    Miriam@Meatless Meals For Meat Eaters

  11. I can honestly say JJ that i have no regrets in my life. Everything i believe gets us to where we need to be in the end. All our experiences help us to grow. I can say i have no regrets. I love my job, im very happy with who i am as a person, i live life to the full as best i can, and i love and respect my friends, and myself and of course my family. Happy christmas to you and your lovely family jj. i may not have a chance to pop over again before the big day, dee ;-)

  12. I'm with you JJ! I think life is way too short and much too precious to spend it regretting stuff. I used to struggle with expressing my feelings & if I am to be honest I still do but I am getting better. I don't have any problems expressing my feelings to those closest me like my family.
    I realized early in life that every thing that happens, good or bad, is an opportunity to reflect, to learn & if necessary make change.

  13. I feel I am still far too young to have regrets, but I feel the stress of not wanting to have regrets, of still finding out who I am, what I want to be doing (not should be doing), what is the best way to handle situations (not the easiest way), etc. At times it feels exhausting, but I find if I let it go, it gets easier. Just still learning the "let it go" feeling.

  14. This was a deep question. I had to really think about my answers. I feel my life was formed by the chain of events resulting from my own ignorance, worldly influences, and perhaps even the lack of guidance from my own parents. I feel I have made lemonade out of lemons so I can't complain. There are only a few turns I would take differenly only because I am no longer niave. My life is full and I have been blessed. My life is what it is. I believe it is what I was born to experience. I don't have regrets. I hope to take what I have learned in this life and apply it to my next life.~Ames

  15. As Ames said, this is deep! At this point in my life, I think I'm living regret free, or close to it. Like you, I'm so happy that sometimes I just laugh out loud and think, "I love my life!"

    But some of those resonated with my earlier life, especially #3 and #5. I'm generalizing now, but #5 seems so prevalent in our American culture. So much so that I made it Step 1 in my 10 Steps. For reasons I don't presume to fully understand, so many of us think it's frivolous or even wrong to be happy.

    As we get older, we seem to divide into those who solidify their unhappiness in blame and bitterness, and those who realize that time is short and choose to savor every moment.

    A thought provoking post, to be sure! And thanks for informing us about Bronnie Ware.

  16. Suze: I love blogging with you. It makes me happy.

    Karen: Absolutely!

    Miriam: I would expect that of you.

    Dee: You make everyone happy. Merry Christmas to you and yours!

    Kath: You are an inspiration!

    AubrieAnne: What a great start you have. Don't "should" on yourself. Go with it and be happy. You are a smart person, and not naive. You will be terrific at everything you do.

    Ames: That is what life is all about. You are wonderful and I am very fortunate to be able to blog with you.

    Galen: That's why I don't believe in time. I don't worry about getting older because that is simply a time measurement. Time is an arbitrary calculation of man used to measure stress. Galen, you are special, and I am happy to know you.

  17. Of these, I had the most trouble with first in my life. It took two different people to teach me the lesson that my life had value... that when someone else was manipulating their needs over mine that my needs were important. I know this seems very obvious, but these people are good, and are usually the people who are supposed to care about you most. They will also use other people you love to get what they want. It really is difficult to step back and see the forest from the trees and truly get that your needs are *important* and they are wrong in what they are doing. And then to walk away BECAUSE your needs are more important than what they are doing. However, once you figure that out and follow through everything else gets easier.

    As for the rest of that list... I think that you are right about friends. I have been trying to reconnect with friends and it isn't easy. Not because I don't want to see them and spend time with them, but their lives are simply way too full. I think that jobs and responsibilities and schedules rule so many lives.

    "Happiness is not a state to arrive at but a manner of traveling." Bought that plaque back in high school and it has been with me ever since. I try to hang it somewhere that I can see it every day. I need to always remember that it is within and not without. If I start looking for it out there someplace I am in big trouble.

  18. Robin: As devastating as that is, it has no bearing on the future. All your true friends just want you to be happy. Merry Christmas, and be well.


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