Text from video,
We all have regrets, or at the very least, experienced this emotion.
The author Bronnie Ware wrote about the five most common regrets she heard from people on their deathbed.
What are they?
One – I wish I hadn’t worked so hard.
Two – I wish I had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected from me
Three – I wish I had the courage to express my feelings
Four – I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends
Five – I wish that I let myself be happier
These wishes are excellent pieces of advice to drive our decisions.
And for many it’s common sense. It falls into the “obvious” category.
It’s evident I should stay in touch with my friends.
It’s evident I should let myself be happy.
And yet, if this is so obvious, why do so many express these regrets when nearing death?
Before answering this question, let’s explore what these five regrets have in common.
You see, they share one thing that makes them so intense that they are at the top of everyone’s mind during their final moments.
These regrets are born from an inability to act. They are born from our own inertia.
You may regret being rude to someone.
You may regret a business decision.
You may regret the consequences of your actions.
But even if you can’t go back in time to prevent them, you still have the ability to fix them.
You can apologise.
You can make other decisions that will allow your business to recover.
And over time, the intensity of your regret can diminish.
It’s like putting some balm on a wound. It won’t make it go away, but it will appease it.
It’s just not possible to appease your regrets for something you didn’t do.
There is no way to “undo” what you didn’t do.
For instance, you can’t go back in time when you were a teenager and ask your crush to go out with you.
The psychology doctors Thomas Gilovich and Victoria Medvec explained that, as time passes, the intensity of our regrets, born from our inaction, increases.
It’s partially due to the many interrogations left unanswered.
What would have happened if I had done this?
What would have happened if I decided to give it a go?
What would my life look like now?
The sad truth is that there is no way to know. There is no way to get closure.
So back to the initial question.
If we all know what we should focus on,
to avoid what we might regret most at the end of our life,
what is it that leads so many of us to express these regrets anyway?
One reason is overthinking.
We fear the potential results of our actions. Thinking that we could make the wrong decisions generates anxiety and we decide we are better off to do nothing.
To remain in the status quo.
And this is the important point here.
Yes, we might make poor decisions.
Yes, we might regret them, but we will never regret them as much as if we decided to do nothing.
If we don’t take actions, we can’t learn from the outcomes. We can’t progress.
We shut down our ability to grow.
Which is ultimately the worst regret to have.
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