Top 10 Regrets Of The Dying

A fascinating study was performed by Bronnie Ware, a nurse in a terminal palliative care unit. She decided to poll her patients in their last days in hopes to uncover any regrets so others may learn.

After personally reviewing her entire study, I knew The Daily Positive community would greatly benefit from its findings. I even dug up this incredible infographic displaying the – “Top 10 Regrets Of The Dying” in detail. This overview left me puzzled and forced me to think of this powerful quote:

“Our greatest fear should not be of failure, but of succeeding at things in life that don’t really matter.”

I hope these findings will not only change the way you think, but the way you act. We only have one life… don’t waste it on things that don’t matter.

Infographic+The+Top+10+Regrets+In+Life+By+Those+About+To+Die-Addicted2Success

Here is the list one more time 🙂
1.  I never pursued my dreams and aspirations.
2. I worked too much and never made time for my family.
3. I should have made more time for my friends.
4.  I should have said ‘I love you’ a lot more.
5.  I should have spoken my mind instead of holding back and resenting things.
6. I should have been the bigger person and resolved my problems.
7. I wish I had children.
8. I should have saved more money for my retirement.
9. Not having the courage to live truthfully.
10. Happiness is a Choice, I wish I knew that earlier.

Which one do you struggle with most? What is keeping you back? Let me know in the comments below.

Dale Partridge

Some know me as a serial entrepreneur and Founder of Sevenly.org, others know me as the guy who can ride a unicycle and still kickflip on a skateboard. I’m on a mission to inspire people. Will you join me? (Dale was the original founder of TheDailyPositive.com, he has now moved onto new ventures. Click here to learn more about StartupCamp.).

59 thoughts on “Top 10 Regrets Of The Dying

  1. Cameron says:

    Leaving high school right now, this makes me realise what I need to focus on in the near and distant future alike. Thanks for the great content Dale

  2. Mary says:

    With Bronnie’s article I found that I was humbled by a disability later in life and I have no regrets. I say you don’t need a lot of stuff to make you happy, you just need LOVE by your family and friends. If you FEEL the love your will be fulfilled. Spent time to FEEL the LOVE!

  3. Sebastian Daniels says:

    I am thankful to have undergone a lot of therapy and made a lot of growth in my life to know that I won’t have any of these except possibly two of them.

    Number 4 is hard for a lot of men. I use to not being able to say it a lot and then I was finally able to say it to the people in my life and now I say it all the time. The beautiful thing about it was that my dad never really said he loved me until I was past 20. I started saying it to him and he says it back and even says it himself to me without me seeing it first.

    Number 5 and 6 are so important. I use to hold a lot of bitterment when I was younger, but when I finally learned to say what I needed to say and take responsibility for myself, it changed my life drastically and made me happier.

    The two I might have are not saving enough for retirement and having children, but I’m 24 so I have a long time to go before deciding any of that. The other ones I am working on so I am happy about that : D.

    Thanks for the post Dale. I am sure this will help a lot of people. It helped me when I originally ran across the study a while back.

    • liwrihs says:

      Your thoughts were also very helpful Sebastian….It’s true… number 4 is difficult especially if the person u want to say it to hurt you so much.

      As regard numbers 5 and 6, well, sometimes what u hold back are really significant emotions that may never be understood by other people (so might as well really keep them). However, there are time u have to say what must be spoken.

      GOD bless u Sebastian

      • Sebastian Daniels says:

        Thanks liwrihs. That is true it can be hard in those situations, but you have to do it for yourself.

        That is true. I have found that even though the other person might not understand them that it is still beneficial for me to say them. You never know how someone will react to what you say. They will interpret whatever you say based on their own unique life experiences and such. Holding back the emotions just hurts you and who knows, maybe sharing it with them will help them too even if they understand it in a different way than you do.

        I use to be so afraid of sharing my emotions/hurts with someone who I cared about because of a fear that they wouldn’t respond the way I’d want them to. I eventually realized that I was afraid of the spontaneity of life and the person’s response. When I went in with the belief that it doesn’t matter how they take it, I need to do this for my own health, it changed me. I was relieved of the stress of holding everything in and I wasn’t worried about how they took it and it ended up making our relationship better. I could speak my mind and I allowed them to be their own unique person.

        Have a great weekend.

  4. Shamay says:

    I have a terminal disease and I can’t express how true these words are. Don’t let anything slip by. It’s better to regret something you did then something you didn’t do.

  5. Mayra says:

    Hi Dale, I always enjoy reading your posts and they seem to come at the perfect time. I always wondered about this when I visit my grandma in the retirement home, she lives from memories and tells me the best stories of her life over and over again. I guess at the end when you cannot move by yourself and are dependent on someone to take of you, you realize that even the freedom that we have now of being independent in our daily lives is something we should cherish, as many don’t have that. I struggle with number 3, I am getting better at spending more time with friends. Also, number 5 has put my family (siblings through a lot of pain lately), I’m hoping that the situation will get better between us but is my younger sister who is having a difficult time speaking her mind constructively that has caused the family to split is a tough situation but I have faith that it will all work out soon! Thank you!

  6. Janine says:

    I have tried to live my life this way since losing so many close people through death. It makes you think how precious life is and it is not to be taken for granted. We cannot live life thinking we will grow old and can wait until then. We need to love life as though it’s the last day on earth we have & not have regrets. Start now, you will not be dissapointed

  7. Tara says:

    Thank you so much for this wonderful article Dale! You’re an angel for providing constant reminders of good things! 🙂

  8. zee says:

    6 & 10 are my story ‘
    6 is lesson i leaned hardest way ” paid a huge price ”.
    10 is something i wish i knew how”to do that ,it makes me wonder how when so much stuff puts you down.. its like Battle every day b/w +ive & -ive thoughts

  9. Mars says:

    Dear Mr. Patridge, I would like to thank you for researching and sharing such inspiring articles.. I am sure in each of these u have made someones day… and this particular one has…

  10. Kevin says:

    Dale, a random Tweet on Twitter hit my account & now I follow you on Twitter after seeing myself in so many posts on your site. “10 regrets” article I’d say #10 is my nemesis. I work in corporate America. Fell into the career 20 years ago. Don’t like the work, the politics/managers who do & know nothing yet control our lives without care for the workers or their families. We are puppets who cover their incompetence. I want more time with my family & freedom to do something I enjoy & am interested in. I’ve settled for mediocrity and no change due to familiarity and ignoring my passions and interests–citing any excuse to keep familiarity and routine. Time to make a serious leap of faith, shed this skin & forge a new me–because I do not like where I am at career wise. I can do better, I deserve better. They (management) does that to people, tears our faith in ourselves away… into thinking we can only do what we do. It’s illusion, creates fear/doubt in ourselves, so they have the power over us. Time to break away, so while I’m still young, I don’t have to have #10 as my regret. Thanks for this article and all others on this site.

  11. lonefox says:

    I can appreciate all these things. However, when we say “happiness is a choice” for some folks, it isn’t a choice. I understand appreciation, gratefulness, etc., but some folks are depressed and need help due to chemical imbalances. Happiness is the farthest thing from a clinically depressed person’s mind. I think a positive attitude always helps, if possible.

    • katndog says:

      And many of us do find happiness when we look for it. If you look to be depressed you will remain so, if you seek happiness and fulfillment then that is what you’ll get. Life is a state of mind. Just ask the people who survived the concentration camps; they’re all happy because they chose to be so – not because they watched their loved ones die. Life IS a choice, choose wisely! ; )

  12. Gemma Arcadian says:

    This is a good list but I don’t agree that happiness is a choice. Happiness is also a process, and for many who suffer from depression or other difficult circumstances, it’s important to validate those barriers. Believing you can just choose to be happy implies that when you’re not happy, it’s your fault. That’s flawed logic in a world full of intricate choices and relationships.

    • katndog says:

      Fault? Not sure where you dug that up, but we are responsible for our reaction to the world around us. We’re not victims doomed to depression. Ever hear the expression FAKE IT TILL YOU MAKE IT. I’ve used that technique many times. It’s helped me get out of my funk on many occasion. Depression runs deep and wide in my family tree, we’ve lost several to suicide. I didn’t just wake up one day and start singing with joy, I had to work at it by way of using 12 step programs, therapy, venting with friends, spiritual outreach and making a conscience choice each day to choose to be happy! Today I can whole heartedly say I am happy its not longer a struggle to get there, I am here, but yes it takes time to make that change, but it is possible IF one puts in the time and effort! ; )

      • No common sense says:

        Thanks. I I have used this technique but have forgotten it. Thanks for reminding me. I am starting it tomm! Thanks! FAKE IT TILL YOU MAKE IT!

    • Loader2000 says:

      I agree with you. Not every item on the list applies to every person equally. Positive thinking will always make life better, but, depending on your situation, doesn’t always make one happy in the short run. However, in the long run, I suspect it builds a sort of momentum. I think the people who quote that regard are generally ones who weren’t suffering clinical depression, but for whom life didn’t measure up to their ideal expectations and spent a large amount of time thinking about that and letting it get to them. That probably isn’t you.

    • Jay says:

      Great observation, and very true. Unhappiness can be like bad weather, impossible to avoid and difficult to escape. I find the best cure for a bout of that is intense exercise–it leaves you wondering what you were worrying about in the first place.

  13. Gus says:

    Number 4–I always feel a bit of a heel when i return the”I love you” because the other person said it first,but your list has encouraged me to be first in line Dale,thanks for the list.

  14. Tshepang S. Koji says:

    I should have spoken my mind instead of holding back and resenting things – I turn to hold back on a lot of things
    & I never pursued my dreams and aspirations ….

  15. chrissy says:

    Excellent list – i have done all i wanted in life, and have no regrets, i am still young enough, to do things if i choose, i also had the man of my dreams too, i was happy, and i though that he was too, he threw himself into his work to avoid me, and then he left me for someone else and he is not happy with his choice, i am trying desparatly to convince him to be happy, and if its not me,(yes i would take him back) if he wants, that he should find someone else to be happy with, as life is short and we only have one go at it. i am keeping a copy of this list to show him and also my friends. thanks for sharing

  16. PJ says:

    Many of these are choices of the privileged class – 1, 2, 3, 7, 8, 9, 10, particularly question #7 and that having kids will assure happiness later in life and that they will be there for you. I have older relatives who had children/cousins but are separated from them because of conflicts, and these are older relatives in their 80s. Just because you have children doesn’t mean they’ll be there for you. I am there for my parents. I know some people my age who have nothing to do with their parents. And many parents aren’t able to leave money to their children as they just don’t have it. Many of these points are a dream of those who are privileged and does not apply to the majority who don’t have a choice of what they do for a living as they just need to get by. My husband and I do not have kids and we are very happy with our lives and circles of friends, our families and are able to chose our careers and how we spend our time. The majority of people I would say do not have that privilege of choice.

    • Lucille says:

      Any time people mention the “privileged” class it always raises a red flag for me. It says to me that they are choosing to be a victim and that they’ve already accepted defeat. It’s so easy to say oh, poor me. I’m not rich, I’m not smart, nobody handed me an opportunity to make my life better. Boo hoo. Many of the so called privileged class arrived there because of their hard work. They may not have been the smartest, richest or luckiest to have great opportunity but they made a life for themselves and succeeded. I’m sure many of them tried and tried again until they did come to a place of comfort. It seems like you protest the having children point too much. If it was something you didn’t want to do so what? You’re happy with that decision great. Most people don’t have children so they are taken care of in old age, that is a selfish thought. And most people who have had children who don’t care for them don’t expect them to. I don’t know why you included having children with being privileged. That’s just ridiculous and we all know a good part of the population propagates and expects the government to pay for bringing up their children. Just another flaw of our people.

    • unity100 says:

      “Just because you have children doesn’t mean they’ll be there for you”

      Not to mention that in this unchecked capitalist age, those children will be having to work like asses to make a living and sustain their lives and their own children. Therefore they wont be able to be there even if they want to.

  17. Donna G says:

    Again Dale, by no coincidence, you have posted something that I needed to hear in exactly the right moment. Thank you for taking the time to selflessly share these tidbits of wisdom. grateful.

  18. Trish J. says:

    Such a lovely attempt to help those of us who are still young & healthy raise awareness of what matters in life! I do appreciate this article. Unfortunately, I have heard #2 way too many times and I agree with “PJ” that this list (especially #2) is full of choices of the privileged class. I love my family more than anything. I am not a “career-minded” woman trying to work my way up some ladder and focusing only on the praise I receive from those in the workforce – I would MUCH rather be at home with my children, spending time with them and hanging out. I’m not even a single mom – I got married before I had any children, I only had two kids, and both my husband and I graduated from college and sought the best jobs we could find. And neither of us has ever been unemployed for any extended period of time, and we have never been on public assistance. In other words, I would say we are doing ALL WE POSSIBLY CAN to rightfully support our family. We don’t have luxuries, we don’t live beyond our means, we don’t have credit card debts – we don’t even own our home. But we understand that we have to work in order to eat. And often that means working a second job (for either or both of us) just to pay medical bills, grocery bills, buy gas for our late-model vehicles, and manage to eek out the necessities in life. We never ask our aging parents to help pay our bills – they are OUR bills. But we definitely struggle. When I hear someone talk about “working too much and not spending enough time with family”, it makes me sick to my stomach. Seriously, what the heck MORE could I possibly be doing to make time for my family? I need to make sure they are not in poor health or malnourished, so I HAVE TO WORK. I have to work a lot. 🙁

    • Allan Zaarour says:

      Hey, Trish, I know exactly what you mean and I’m in the same page as you. I think this article is not patronizing, as if it was saying: “You work to much and you don’t make time for your family, shame on you!” It is just a realization of numerous people that, looking back, they think they could have made more time for their family, as in being with them, physically, for a larger period of time. Many of them surely weren’t part of the privileged class, but life experience thought them that some of those items could have been met event without the privilege. And some of those items could refer only to states of mind, such as “living truthfully”, which doesn’t imply having money to spend in expensive trips – only having your mind set more in the present moment rather than preoccupied with things that may happen. And specifically about “working too much”, this could mean only having your mind out of work when not at work, for example, I think. When we are with our spouses and children, we should really BE with them, that’s all, giving our thoughts and attention to them and not to problems at work or about getting a different job, etc. That’s just my view on it, I hope it resonates with you.

      • Kelly Proudfoot says:

        I agree Allan – and I also understand what Trish is saying. I was a single parent and had to do it tough to support my son, but there’s something missing here. Taking stock of your life or pulling back to get a bird’s eye view of how you’re living and what you can do to make things better is a good way of dealing with spinning your wheels and going nowhere.

        If your work is not conducive to a happy balance – analyze the situation and create a better pathway. I used to be a Career Adviser and helped many people by looking at how they could better themselves and their situations to find better jobs that paid more and gave them a greater sense of fulfillment.

        Those of us in Trish’s situation would benefit if we took a look at the local job markets and skill shortages in our areas, in order to try and align our skill-sets with what’s going on in the labor market. Also – seek out opportunities that give us a chance to make money from our hobbies – like local markets and selling crafts, art, writing, cooking etc.

        Check out local community centers that might have classes – either free or cheap – to skill up (matching local labor needs, as mentioned above) so that your skill-set is enhanced – making your resume more appealing to the labor market.

        Thinking outside the box and using the old adage, “Work smarter, not harder” – paves the way for a happier life – at work and at home. Not trying to be preachy – just trying to help!

  19. Frank says:

    Remember that this is the result of a poll of the dying. There are no wrong answers. It should make us all contemplate our daily choices and goals. A powerful motivator. And while we don’t always choose our circumstances we do choose our attitudes and responses to it in trying to be happy.

  20. Brian says:

    #5 is a tough one due to so many people in today’s world that would rather fight you than debate you. We are quickly becoming an uncivilized society…

  21. Jesse says:

    I am bad at talking to girls. And it has become a habit to hold myself back even if an opportunity knocks my door. I am trying hard to break this mental rut of shyness. I want to die a bold person. Any help will be appreciated.

    • Jay says:

      I was painfully shy as a teenager, and terrified of rejection. I started to tell myself, “hey, she’s WITH you man, so she LIKES you, FOOL!” And, “what have you got to lose!” I also imagined the billions of centuries in the distant future in which I would be dead as a doornail and all would be utterly insignificant, immaterial, gone forever. What a horrible thought! Seize the day! When I finally got the guts to reach out and touch a girl, or move for a kiss, the results were….. NICE! Hey, I’m no playboy, either. Just wanted to love and be loved. Most girls are waiting for the guys to make the moves. At least that’s the way it was when I was young!

  22. Sara says:

    Number 10 – back when I used to have an eating disorder, I tried my hardest every single day to be happy, but because of my disorder, I was still miserable. However, with time, I got better, and today I am very happy. 🙂

  23. Nana says:

    There is a book “When the Game is Over, It All goes Back in the Box” by John Ortberg. I think we are here on earth for a specific purpose and how we spend that time during this lifetime is all that matters. We need to realize that everything we have was given to us for a purpose and what we do with those material things is up to us. We didn’t come in this life with them and we aren’t going out with them. They all belong to God and are only for us to use. I believe that we are to use them for our family and friends and all those in our path as we go through life, to live the life that God wants us to live. Nothing belongs to us personally, only entrusted to us. If a person really believes that we each have what we are supposed to have, I think it is easy to share those things, to be giving, and to leave those things behind at the right time. Aging should be graceful and appreciated.

  24. Kay says:

    I know lots of older people who do not regret not having children, and i know some people with kids who don’t care about them at all. never a guarantee with kids. I think wanting someone to be there for you when you are old is a terrible reason to have children. But none of my business…just an observation.

  25. Sharon Martin says:

    Having kids is no guarantee that they will be there for you. I have a job where I work on lots of senior and I hear all their stories. Also many people nowadays have no retirement through no fault of their own. Pensions have become obsolete and those that have 401ks have seen them diminish. There are also cases of people becoming ill in between jobs and having their 401ks wiped out for medical expenses. It is wise to plan but then again for some people, life has a way of making their plans go sideways.

  26. Barb says:

    I love this list! I actually use her 5 Regret List when I teach Stress Management for Correctional Officers. Each point is going to be individual for each person, but the list overall really helps people start to think about where they are in their lives, if there are any changes they want to make, and what goals they want to set for themselves. I will definitely be upgrading to this 10 Regret List!

  27. Julia says:

    This is a great list. I would add/include knowing which virtues you live by. We focus so much on love we forget about the other virtues such as courage, hope, honor, etc. I mean, they obviously all go together but sometimes there is one virtue guiding our lives. I wish I understood this in high school. I’m just getting clear on this in my thirties. Which leads me to another addition to my list. To not be scared to own my life. For anyone who has experienced violence from others, regularly, courage can be an antidote. Sometimes having the courage to hide and protect ourselves from further harm can be huge. Having the audacity to put ourselves first rather than seeking hero status can take courage.

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