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Top Five Regrets People Make in Life and What to Learn from Them

Posted by Golden Haven on August 20, 2021

Written by: Peter Simon, Golden Haven Bauan

People claim that during near-death experiences or accidents, you could see your entire life flash before your very eyes — all the regrets; all your longings; all the people you love.

We at Golden Haven grew accustomed to the ideas of death and farewells. Being in this industry for so long, I have seen my fair share of families and loved ones in grief. That gaze of denial and sadness in the eyes of the bereaved when they are at the Golden Haven office, over the years, became a strangely familiar sight.

At times, I can’t help but wonder if life, no matter how fruitful, could really end just like that.

Bronnie Ware, an Australian nurse, spent most of her professional career caring for patients during the last few weeks of their lives. She routinely asked them questions about “any regrets they had or if they would have lived their lives any differently if given the chance.”

What she discovered from her patients was nothing short of a revelation. She compiled these stories of people in their deathbeds in her blog and caught the attention of millions of readers the world over.

RELATED: Finding Comfort in Discourse on Death Preparation

I believe that we can learn from these people and maybe, just maybe, avoid these regrets for ourselves later on our lives.

“I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.”

Most of our reservations in life root from the fact that we are terrified to disappoint the people around us. We are scared of the things they will say and what their impressions of us will be. Our fear of disappointing them is irrationally greater than our actual fear of failing, and in effect, this stops us from achieving all of the greater things life has to offer.

I wish I became a DJ. I dream of becoming a painter.  I hope it’s not too late for me to be happy.

When we are near the end, we experience this profound moment of clarity and it is remarkably easy to see all of our unfulfilled dreams. It is even sadder if more than half of these will remain just like that – just dreams. Regrets come flooding back when we realize that we have no one else to blame but ourselves. All because we chose to be afraid and opt-out of chasing them when we had the chance.

“I wish I hadn’t worked so hard.”

Fathers missing out on their children’s youth or a girl compromising her chance for a love of a lifetime – both are equally tragic in their own rights. For what? Because you always work overtime? Trying to catch that deadline for a prime promotion? Trying to impress your boss by proving a point?

It is necessary to work, yes. But we have to understand that we work to live, not the other way around. It is much better to work smarter, not harder. Allot time for yourself and the people you love and don’t allow yourselves to realize a moment too late that you withered yourself down chasing the superficial. You can’t wait until life isn’t hard anymore before you decide to be happy.

“I wish I’d had the courage to explain my feelings.”

Your feelings are perfectly valid, and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. Many suppress their feelings and opinions to their selves in order to maintain calm and avoid conflict. As a result, they remain rooted on the spot, incapable of growth and realizing their truest potentials.

There is a proper way to say anything; even the most unpleasant of subjects. Don’t think that it is ultimately better to go unnoticed by being quiet even on the most trivial of topics. When you like something, say it. If you don’t like what’s going on, even if someone may not like it, say it either way! They will react for sure but you are raising the dynamics of your relationship to a whole other level – one that is based on honesty and mutual respect.

“I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.”

This, for me, is the most tragic. We form multiple circles of friends through the years. Some may simply be passing colleagues but, for sure, we have friends who changed and touched our lives in significant ways. Most of us become so caught up in our own lives that we forget these important people in our lives. We overlook the fact we are better with them around.

Due to the fact that life moves at an absurdly fast pace, we often find ourselves in a situation where we forget to give these friendships the attention and nurturing that they deserve. I, myself, am guilty of this. I can’t tell you how many people from my past, people whom I thought will always be parts of my life, have gone to become total strangers. And this breaks my heart every single time.

I always remember what Ted Mosby from How I Met Your Mother said, and he said it beautifully: “You will be shocked, kids, when you discover how easy it is in life to part ways with people forever. That’s why, when you find someone you want to keep around, you do something about it.”

“I wish I had let myself be happier.”

What most people fail to realize is that happiness is a choice. It is just unfortunate that we fall into the trap of familiarity and complacency. Just because it is what we grow up experiencing does not necessarily mean that we can’t make a better situation out of it. We fear change and the risks that come with it, and because of this, we end up living a mediocre life. All of us deserve to have what truly makes us happy!


We are fortunate enough to know the regrets that most people experience on their deathbeds. In effect, we have the choice right here, right now to do something about them. What differs us from them is that we have the luxury of time and the capacity to achieve peace, even if it takes one small step at a time.

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  • Golden Haven is a member of the Villar Group of Companies and a subsidiary of Golden MV Holdings, Inc. The company continues to develop the most beautiful memorial parks in the country and is now the largest chain of memorial parks in the Philippines.

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