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Life lessons from The Top Five Regrets of the Dying by Bronnie Ware: A Medium Post

I first posted this one on Medium.

I’m a reader. When I moved to Australia to move in with my partner, one of the first things I did was nose at his bookcases. The first book I read was The Top Five Regrets of the Dying by Bronnie Ware. Reading it, I realised all of the regrets were basic life lessons, all of them obvious but things we easily miss in the fast pace of our modern world.

Bronnie Ware looked after the dying as a palliative care worker. A hard job, but one she learned a lot from and wanted to share with the world. She uses the book to sum up the main five regrets that people have when they die, all of them anxious for Bronnie not to make the same mistakes as they did.


  1. Have the courage to live the life you want, not the life others expect of you

  2. Don’t work so hard that you miss living out a life you could enjoy with your loved ones

  3. Have the courage to express your feelings: interact honestly with people and tell them how much they mean to you

  4. Stay in touch with your friends

  5. Let yourself be happy (laugh, be silly, have fun)

When you look at them written out like that, it’s amazing. It’s easy to look at that list and think ‘Well, of course. Who wouldn’t want to live a life like that?’ Surprisingly, it’s harder than we think. Reading the book, where people were sharing their regrets with Bronnie, I learned that it was harder to chase happiness and live with courage than I originally thought. People were sharing their stories about how easy it was to lose those things, without even realising. We just get so wrapped up in the speed of life that we forget to make it the life we want.

That’s why you need to begin living the life you want, now.

Begin to live the life you want so you can look back and know it was great.


The hardest one for me is having the courage to live the life I want. I’m fortunate that I spotted it really early on and dragged myself to a different direction towards what I really wanted. Others aren’t so fortunate — yet. I know they can make it too and I can promise life feels so much better on the path you chose.

So, a question for you: if you knew you were going to die soon, what would be your biggest regret?

Can you use that ‘future regret’ to forge the life you want now so when your fate comes you’ll know you lived your best life?

To sum it up, you can learn to live your true life (filled with family, friends, happiness) by learning from the regrets of those who came before us. I know this isn’t something we normally think about in day-to-day living. It creeps up on us as we get closer to dying. But, by deciding now and living consciously, you can make life the way you want and know you lived to your utmost when your time comes.


I absolutely recommend you read The Top Five Regrets of the Dying by Bronnie Ware. It’s a beautiful, honest, open, and inspiring book (just what we need when the world looks a little scary!)

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