Counsellors and psychotherapists generally don’t recommend books to clients, yet I sometimes find myself mentioning Bronnie Ware’s book “The Top Five Regrets of the Dying” in the counselling room.
The book reveals the most common regrets that people have as they come towards the end of their life:
• I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.
• I wish I hadn’t worked so hard.
• I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings.
• I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.
• I wish that I had let myself be happier.
Despite the perhaps depressing title of the book, pausing to reflect on how we’d like our own life story to end can be extremely empowering. The insight we gain can affect the choices we make in the here-and-now, leading us to make better decisions, and helping to avoid regrets in the future. Although it might be something of a cliché, it’s not necessarily the things we’ve done in life that we regret, but the things we didn’t do.
Starting to live our best life and becoming a better version of ourselves isn’t always easy, of course, particularly when faced with life’s challenges. Having a clear idea of what our best life might look and feel like is one thing… making it happen is another and the support of a counsellor or psychotherapist can be invaluable here.
So, what would it mean for you to live a life true to yourself, rather than the life friends and family expect of you? How could you gain the confidence to express your thoughts and feelings to others? What is holding you back from being happier?
A counsellor won’t be able to answer these questions for you but can provide space for you to consider what they truly mean for you. Taking time now to consider whether you really are living your best life could be a great investment in a happier, regret-free future.