I believe that no matter what stage we are at in life, we probably all have regrets. Regret is something that provides merely suffering for ourselves as we let the past determine how we should feel today. Perhaps we should rather try to learn from our regrets – both of the things we did and the ones we did not do! We cannot change the past but we have a choice how we design our future.

Bronnie Ware, a palliative nurse from Australia, recorded the most common regrets of the dying and put her findings into a book called “The Top Five Regrets of The Dying.” It’s not surprising to see what made the list as they are all things that touch each of our lives as we struggle to pay attention to and make time for things that we truly love.

I would like to share those five regrets with you and give you a short excerpt from the book with each of them and my personal view.

  1. I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.“This was the most common regret of all. When people realize that their life is almost over and look back clearly on it, it is easy to see how many dreams have gone unfulfilled. Most people had not honored even a half of their dreams and had to die knowing that it was due to choices they had made, or not made. Health brings a freedom very few realize, until they no longer have it.”Much too often in life we do what is or what we believe is expected of us. We follow a social construct that has been instilled in us, imposed on us by others or even ourselves. Unfortunately, we forget to follow our heart and our passion and at the end of our life comes the sad awakening.
  2. I wish I hadn’t worked so hard.“This came from every male patient that I nursed. They missed their children’s youth and their partner’s companionship. Women also spoke of this regret, but as most were from an older generation, many of the female patients had not been breadwinners. All of the men I nursed deeply regretted spending so much of their lives on the treadmill of a work existence.”I suppose very few people look back on their lives wishing they had attended more meetings or conferences, or nowadays video calls etc. This does not mean that we should not work or even work hard but we much too often neglect finding a balance – which can admittedly be very challenging
  3. I wish I had the courage to express my feelings.“Many people suppressed their feelings in order to keep peace with others. As a result, they settled for a mediocre existence and never became who they were truly capable of becoming. Many developed illnesses relating to the bitterness and resentment they carried as a result.”Many people find it very difficult to express their feelings. It is always the same: when we show our feelings, when we turn our inner selves inside out, we make ourselves vulnerable. This is true, but only through the expression of our feelings are we able to build real and valuable connections with other people. In matters of love, too, it can make us seriously ill if we do not follow our heart and live a life – for whatever reason – that does not correspond to what we really long for.
  4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.“Often they would not truly realize the full benefits of old friends until their dying weeks and it was not always possible to track them down. Many had become so caught up in their own lives that they had let golden friendships slip by over the years. There were many deep regrets about not giving friendships the time and effort that they deserved. Everyone misses their friends when they are dying.”I believe we let go of people in our lives too easily sometimes. Don’t get me wrong, there are reasons to say goodbye to people or friends. Not every friend is meant to be with us for life, some are only a part of our lives for a short time. But there are those special friends, the friends who stand by our side in times of great joy and also in times of great sorrow without expectations. These are the friendships that, like any good relationship, should be nurtured to maintain.
  5. I wish I had let myself be happier.”This is a surprisingly common one. Many did not realize until the end that happiness is a choice. They had stayed stuck in old patterns and habits. The so-called ‘comfort’ of familiarity overflowed into their emotions, as well as their physical lives. Fear of change had them pretending to others, and to their selves, that they were content, when deep within, they longed to laugh properly and have silliness in their life again.”I know so many people for whom true happiness is a foreign word. They have “surrendered” to their situation so much that they don’t even recognise happiness when it bites them in the behind. People like to stay in their so-called “comfort zone” – even if it is anything but comfortable. But they are areas of habit in which you know your way around, know how to deal with them – they just don’t usually make you happy. Happiness is actually a choice we have. It requires courage and the leap into the unknown – the leap of faith! The reward can be happiness or at least the comforting feeling that you tried!

Life is not only to short for regrets but also much to short to:

hold grudges

to eat bad food

to surround yourself with toxic people

to have bad sex

to be unhappy

to dwell on the past and more…

Life is beautiful!

…most of the time!

In my practice I come across so many wonderful people that have perhaps not lost their lust for life, but their zest is hardly perceptible any more, or at least has greatly diminished.

If you would like to connect with me, find out more about the Enneagram and yourself, how it can transform you and your life, I would be happy to take the time for a speed coaching call that you can reserve right here , go to my website or simply hit reply and get in touch with me directly.

🎶My Song of the Week

📚My Poem of the Week

This week I want to share a poem by a poet that I just discovered in 2020, during my one year Poetry Challenge. Lisel Mueller (1924–2020) has become one of my favourite poets in this time and I have taken the poem “Alive Together” from the book of the same title.

Alive Together

Speaking of marvels, I am alive
together with you, when I might have been
alive with anyone under the sun,
when I might have been Abelard’s woman
or the whore of a Renaissance pope
or a peasant wife with not enough food
and not enough love, with my children
dead of the plague. I might have slept
in an alcove next to the man
with the golden nose, who poked it

into the business of stars,
or sewn a starry flag
for a general with wooden teeth.
I might have been the exemplary Pocahontas
or a woman without a name
weeping in Master’s bed
for my husband, exchanged for a mule,
my daughter, lost in a drunken bet.
I might have been stretched on a totem pole
to appease a vindictive god

or left, a useless girl-child,
to die on a cliff. I like to think
I might have been Mary Shelley
in love with a wrong-headed angel,
or Mary’s friend. I might have been you.
This poem is endless, the odds against us are endless,
our chances of being alive together
statistically nonexistent;
still we have made it, alive in a time
when rationalists in square hats
and hatless Jehovah’s Witnesses
agree it is almost over,
alive with our lively children
who-but for endless ifs-
might have missed out on being alive
together with marvels and follies
and longings and lies and wishes
and error and humor and mercy
and journeys and voices and faces
and colors and summers and mornings
and knowledge and tears and chance.


I will leave you today with this beautiful photo of my favourite flowers that always fill me with joy wherever I see them!

What is your biggest regret and what can you do to change that right now?

Wishing you a great start to your weekend!


Tanja 🤗

I would be delighted to welcome you as a subscriber to my Weekly Newsletter. Follow the link here to subscribe – I look forward to writing to you next Friday.

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