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Top 5 Most Common Regrets of the Dying and How to Avoid Them

Image: on Flickr

How many people have ever lived on Earth? Whether you believe it’s 107,602,707,791 or not, I think we can all agree that the answer is a lot.

That means we should have tons of insight into what people regret the most when they are dying so we don’t make the same mistakes over and over and over again for thousands of years, right?

After reading countless articles on this topic, here’s what I learned…

In 2005, Scientific American and WebMD claimed, ”New research traces regret to the brain’s medial orbitofrontal cortex.” As recent as a couple months ago, published a study (reported on saying, “…brain activity in a region called the ventral striatum, which is associated with feelings of regret.”

Top 5 Most Common Regrets of the Dying (by Bronnie Ware, author of the full-length memoir, The Top Five Regrets of the Dying - A Life Transformed by the Dearly Departing, released worldwide):

  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.
Top 5 Regrets, Inverted (by Paul Graham, an essayist, programmer, investor, and founder of Y Combinator):
  1. Don’t ignore your dreams.
  2. Don’t work too much.
  3. Say what you think.
  4. Cultivate friendships.
  5. Be happy.
"Managing regret productively may be an essential ingredient for mental health, a good quality of life, and a positive sense of well-being." — Michael Craig Miller, M.D. Editor in Chief, Harvard Mental Health Letter

So, what are you going to do today, this week, this month, and this year to live with no regrets?