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The 5 Regrets of the Dying.

Last year when we moved to Nashville, I signed up to receive notification emails for upcoming estate sales in town. I browse through the photos to see if it’s worth dragging the children with me on a Friday morning, early enough to get the good things. As you might imagine, it’s tricky to properly browse an estate sale with small children in tow. We avoid the rooms filled with crystal and other breakable things, and stick to our search for records, vintage books, or other folksy treasures.

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I can’t help but wonder about the people selling their things. Lately I’ve noticed a ton of big collections: coins, china, figurines—the sale announced today features a large collection of pocketknives—and sadness strikes me. Is this what the owners thought would happen as they spent years amassing collections? That strangers would riffle though and offer a few bucks for it?

In Bronnie Ware’s book, The Top Five Regrets of the Dying, she unpacks a few big themes that she experienced while working in palliative care. Can you guess what the top five are? What about what’s not on the list?

On the list:
• 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 I had let myself be happier.

NOT on the list:
• I wish I had kept my house perfectly immaculate every day.
• I wish I hadn’t wasted all that time with my children.
• I wish I had collected more stuff.
• I wish I had watched more TV instead of finishing my novel.
• I wish I had spent less time around a campfire having all those great conversations.

These are a few of the things I feel are keeping us stuck on the surface of life, when we’re really created dig deeply.

We’re created for meaningful relationships and experiences, yet many of us are stuck on hamster wheels that generate that list of regrets.

Meeting others’ expectations instead of our own—or God’s.

Working to buy things we don’t need with money we don’t have to impress people we don’t like. (Dave Ramsey paraphrase)

Stewing on ideas or feelings without knowing how to authentically and meaningfully communicate.

Having thousands of “friends” on social media, but not investing well with those who matter most.

Doing the things that keep us busy instead of feeding our souls.

What small steps can you take today to be on the path to fulfillment rather than regret?