Avoiding Deathbed Regrets

April 10, 2023

A Guide To Avoiding Deathbed Regrets: Living Without Looking Back

By: Cathy Peterson

Let’s be honest, we all have that one friend who thinks “YOLO” is a valid life motto. Well, it would seem “You only live once” is a trap. Although it’s technically true, it doesn’t mean you should spend your life making impulsive decisions and ignoring the consequences. Deathbed regrets are the feelings of remorse or disappointment that people may experience as they approach the end of their lives. These regrets may arise from a variety of sources, such as missed opportunities, unfulfilled dreams, unresolved conflicts, or poor choices. So the question is, why not start living with intention now to avoid those pesky regrets?

happy family

In The End, Here's What We Regret The Most

Common deathbed regrets may include:

1. Not having spent enough time with loved ones

2. Not having pursued one’s passions or lived life to the fullest

3. Not having forgiven or reconciled with someone

4. Not having expressed one’s true feelings or thoughts to others

5. Not having taken more risks or been more adventurous

6. Not having made a positive impact on the world or left a legacy

7. Not having taken better care of one’s physical or mental health

One of the most common regrets people have is that they did not spend enough time with the people they love. In daily life, it’s easy to get caught up in work, chores, and other responsibilities. But at the end of our lives, it’s the time we share with the people we care about that matters most. Another common regret is not pursuing our dreams and passions. Many people get stuck in jobs they don’t enjoy, or they put their passions on hold because they are too busy or too scared to take a chance. But at the end of our lives it’s the things we didn’t do, rather than the things we did do, that we most times regret the most.

People also regret not taking care of their health. (3) It’s easy to take our health for granted when we are young and healthy, but as we age, our bodies begin to wear out. It’s important to eat healthy, get enough sleep, exercise regularly, and see a doctor when you need to. Your future self will sincerely thank you. People tend to regret not living in the present moment. It’s easy to get caught up in regrets about the past or worries about the future, but the only moment we truly have is the present.

Many people find that reflecting on these regrets can inspire them to make positive changes in their lives while they still have the chance. These regrets can be a powerful reminder of the importance of living a fulfilling and meaningful life.

woman praying beside man

The Deathbed Regret List: An Eye-Opening Exercise

The Deathbed Regret List is an illuminating and inspiring exercise that everyone should consider going through. It is an efficient process to define and clarify the core values with which we should live our lives. It can force you to begin, with the end in mind.

The exercise has three key steps: (1)

1. List Your Regrets: Make a list of your most likely deathbed regrets. What do you know about yourself that you would regret most on your deathbed? This is deeply personal - so don’t write down what you think you should say, write down what you will actually regret.

2. Establish Your Values: Formulate a set of 3-5 core personal values that are highlighted by your regret list. What are the common themes of the regrets you listed? These common themes are likely to focus on the things you value most deeply in life.

3. Determine Your Actions: For each core personal value, determine the actions you can take today to behave in line with that value. Are you currently living your life to be consistent with these values? If you continue on your current path, will you have these regrets? If so, what changes need to be made to avoid them? How can you redesign your life to avoid these regrets?

A sign that points to

Daily Practices To Avoid Regret

Although taking part in the Deathbed Regret exercise can be fundamentally eye-opening, practicing smaller daily tasks can help design your life in a way to minimize any regrets in the end. Expose yourself to things that will make you happier:

- Sunlight

- Exercise

- Real food

- More experiences

- Things you love that you can do repeatedly

It can help to avoid regret by focusing on cultivating happiness and well-being in your daily life. (2) This can involve practicing gratitude and focusing on what you are grateful for in life. Also, engaging in activities that promote relaxation and stress management such as mediation, exercises or hobbies. It can also be helpful to seek out a social support system that cultivates an overall sense of belonging.

Friends riding in car with hands in the air

Regret Is A Strong Emotion: Avoid It At All Costs

Deathbed regrets can be a powerful motivator for us to live our lives to the fullest and make the most of every living moment. They are a powerful reminder of the importance of living a fulfilling and meaningful life. By taking the time to reflect on what really matters to each of us, we can avoid the common regrets that many people have in the end. By prioritizing our relationships, pursuing our passions and dreams, taking care of our health, and living in the present moment, we can create a life that we can look back on without regret. It’s important to learn from the lessons of those who came before us, to guide us towards a life well-lived.

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