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Top Five Regrets of the Dying

Posted on November 30th, 2012

What would your biggest regret be if this was your last day of life? Bronnie Ware is an Australian nurse who spent several years working in with the dying. She began to ask them their most common regrets at the end of their lives. Ware writes, “When questioned about any regrets they had or anything they would do differently,” she says, “common themes surfaced again and again.” And among the top, from men in particular, is ‘I wish I hadn’t worked so hard’. She recorded their dying epiphanies in a blog called Inspiration and Chai, which gathered so much attention that she put her observations into a book called The Top Five Regrets of the Dying. Here are the top five regrets of the dying that she discovered: 1. I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me. She notes:When people realize that their life is almost over and look back clearly on it, it is easy to see how many dreams have gone unfulfilled.” 2. I wish I hadn’t worked so hard. She writes: ” All of the men I nursed deeply regretted spending so much of their lives on the treadmill of a work existence. 3. I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings. Many people suppressed their feelings in order to keep peace with others. As a result, they settled for a mediocre existence and never became who they were truly capable of becoming. 4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends. “There were many deep regrets about not giving friendships the time and effort that they deserved. Everyone misses their friends when they are dying.” 5. I wish that I had let myself be happier. “When you are on your deathbed, what others think of you is a long way from your mind. My limited experience with people dying over the years confirms these themes. These responses further confirm the importance of bringing the missing components of emotional health and contemplative spirituality back to the center of our spiritual formation. I would like to invite you to listen to a core sermon message I gave at New Life a few weeks ago. It is called “Loving Union” (from Acts 19) about God’s invitation for us to embrace a slowed down, more deliberate life with Him, i.e. a life without regrets.

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