This story can turn your life around. I'd like to share with you an unknown story about Valentine, a Russian woman that was working in a hospice. It’s a place where people stay in the last days/months of their life.
Valentine was able to communicate with those people and get to know the ultimate conclusions that they draw from their life, and even more importantly, the main things they regretted about.
Unfortunately for those people, it was too late to change anything. On the contrary, we can learn those insights and make good use of them.
According to the Center for Disease Control, about 4 out of 10 Americans have not discovered a satisfying life purpose.
This article may give you a hint for living a more fulfilled life. Thus, when you look backward at your life, you’ll think about it with a sense of fulfillment and happiness; rather than regrets about some bad choices that you’ve made.
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Life Changing Experience
Now let's move on to Valentine’s story.
After 23 years of living together, Valentine's husband died. She was deeply depressed and wasn't sure how to bring herself back to life.
At that point, a priest gave her advice: “Start helping those who are in a worse situation than you are.” That's how Valentine started to work in a hospice.
As she reported, later on, that experience turned her life around. Here's what she says: “When you observe death daily, you start realizing that life is a priceless gift. The fact that you were born is a miracle by itself. And every new day that you can live is a priceless gift.”
For a number of years, Valentine was able to communicate with people on their death bed and to summarize their top regrets.
Regret #1: “I didn't make my mark”.
When people know that they are about to die they start thinking about the outcome of their life. What will be left after they pass away?
The one good thing that people can take pride in is their kids and that's certainly a very good thing.
However, apart from that, when people start thinking about the outcome of their life, unfortunately, often times they come to a sad conclusion.
All they accumulated for their life is just a bunch of Chinese goods, where most of it will go to garbage soon after their death. This is, of course, a very sad realization.
‘Making your mark’ often times doesn’t imply something very significant for the humanity. Something that could be a relatively small thing.
Some people regret about not writing a book, where they could summarize their life experience. Or even just the fact that they didn't make a summer house where people could go to and enjoy staying there.
In any case, think about these questions. What will you be remembered for? What will be left on this planet after you pass away?
Regret #2: Wasted Time.
During the course of our lives, we prefer not to think about our death and therefore spend our time easily and naturally. However, when people realize that their time is limited, they start valuing their time much more.
People start thinking about:
- All the boring job meetings they took part in.
- All the time they spent in relationships and conversations they maintained as a matter of courtesy and not because they really wished it.
- And so on…
The main takeaway here is to realize that our time is limited and therefore we should be very cautious with it. We should not be wasting it on things that are not truly valuable for us.
A wasted hour doesn't seem like anything harmful. The day you lived without doing something valuable doesn't seem bringing too much damage to your life.
However, when people look backward at their life, they realize that those wasted days accumulate into years wasted on meaningless things.
People couldn't even remember what they were doing over the course of some years. It turns out that nothing special happened there.
Regret #3: “I worked too much. I communicated with my loved ones too little”.
Bronnie Ware, who worked in Australian hospice, came up to the same conclusion. Here's what Bronnie wrote: ”I wish I didn't work so hard” – this came from every male patient that I nursed.
This regret is common for women as well but it seems to be much more typical for a man.
Here it’s interesting to bring up the results of the research of the Nobel Prize winner Daniel Kahneman about money and happiness.
If truly poor people start making more money, it reduces the level of stress they have in life. Otherwise, such people have stress from being unable to afford the basic things: such as food, medicine or having a place to live in.
However, after people reached the financial level of a bit above the average, even big financial gains don’t add much, if any, to the level of their happiness.
Nowadays people pursue the money and all of the things that money can buy. And they let very important moments of their life to slip by.
Valentine told us about one of her patients – a businessman who owns an international transportation company. Here’s what he said.
“It turned out that I could live only once, and I spent this life making money. Now I don't even have time to spend it.
I didn't have enough time to travel or just to let myself spending a week in the tent by the riverside.
I was worrying that otherwise the competitors would bypass me. Gradually I started to believe that this lifestyle is normal and that I'll take time for joy in the future. And now I’m in the situation when this ‘future’ will never come.”
Regret #4: “I didn't pursue my true love.”
People regret about the true love that they met but couldn't make it work out for some reason. People recollect those moments with true tenderness and sorrow.
Here's one of the typical stories – a 40 years old doctor felt in love with his colleague. At the same time, he had a wife and a 5 years old daughter.
When he exposed his feelings to his family and relatives, everybody was against him. Finally, he decided to give up and to stay with his family.
Still, he was feeling depressed. Later on his marriage broke apart anyway.
Being in the hospice, this man was in the deep regret that he let the true love of his life to slip.
He tried to find out that woman, to call her. He was hoping to tell her that she was the only true love of his whole life, and apologize for letting their love pass away. But he couldn't find her.
Regret #5: “I didn’t give birth to a child.”
Women regret that they didn't give birth to a child. This regret is especially huge for women who were pregnant but made an abortion.
Often, people think that they need to keep working for a few more years, build their career, and then to give birth to a child.
Sometimes, it doesn’t work out that way for some reason. But the time passed away, and now it is too late for having a baby.
Here's a story from one of such women.
“I was living in a village and I knew that if I give birth to a child without having a family and without a husband, my mother would be against it and would feel ashamed.”
And then this woman started to cry and added: “So what? Now my daughter or son could’ve been 30 years old already.”
Regret #6: “I didn't live a life true to myself.”
Many people say that they didn't find the time to live true to themselves. Everybody has his own definition of what this means. Some wished to visit Paris. Some wished to drive across their country or to make a parachute jump or anything else.
Valentine recollects her patient who had a very successful career. When he was in the hospice he said the following.
“We all are trapped by the norms and customs. A majority of people care too much about the public opinion and the attributes of status and success. Thus most people don't live their own life.
They are afraid to change something, to challenge their fate. Their logic prevails over their inner voice that knows what you truly want.
Now when I am on my death bed, I say to my kids: “Think about yourself, think what you truly want and do it. Don't wait. Do it as soon as you can, do it right now.”
Life is a journey and its unpredictability is what makes life beautiful. Often times, changes for the bad become a beginning of a new bright period of your life.”
Conclusion – 6 Choices People Regret Forever:
- I didn't make my mark.
- Wasted Time.
- I worked too much. I communicated with my loved ones too little.
- I didn't pursue my true love.
- I didn’t give birth to a child.
- I didn't live a life true to myself.
Source of Valentine’s story: Russian magazine “Arguments and Facts”, #45.
P.S. Do you have any regrets that you need to address right now?