By Aaron Williams, CEO, Mindstar

There is a simple life lesson that contradicts what is often taught to us by our parents, teachers, family, television advertising, corporations or politicians…

The lesson is this:

“If you judge your life solely by what possessions you have, by how much money you make, or by what others think of you, you will never, ever truly be happy.”

Because it will never, ever be enough.

Human nature means that no matter what level of riches you might have, you will still compare yourself to others who you think have more.

Therefore, you will always feel you need more.

A new car…

New clothes…

A new TV…

The newest model phone…

Or, to feel the need to impress your friends, colleagues or family with your job title or importance… Or, your carefully stage-managed photos on social media…

This struggle, this internal battle for “more”, usually continues right up until you prepare to take your very last breath on this planet.

Then, just as you get closer to your own mortality, you start to understand the truth…

You never needed more.  You always truly had enough.

But then it is too late.

In her much loved book “The Top 5 Regrets of the Dying”, palliative care worker Bronnie Ware talks about the most common regrets expressed by her patients.

Bronnie worked with people who had gone home to die, and spent time with them for the last three to twelve weeks of their life.

The most common things that people who are about to die say are NOT things like:

I wish that I had made that extra twenty grand a year… 

Or, I wish that I had worked more weekends… 

Or, I wish that I had been able to buy a bigger TV… 

Dying people have different regrets.

Human regrets.

According to Bonnie, the top five regrets of people who were about to die were:

  1. I wish I hadn’t worked so hard.
  2. I wish I’d had the courage to openly and honestly express my feelings to those around me.
  3. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.
  4. I wish that I had allowed myself to be happier.
  5. I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.


All of these regrets make me sad.

But the last two just seem crazy?

Not allowing ourselves to be happy during our life?

Our own happiness is one of the things that we have the most control over, yet it is the thing that we sacrifice the most.

The most common regret that people expressed to Bonnie was the last one, number five.

“I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.”

How many of us are living a life that is focused on meeting the needs and expectations of others, rather than achieving what we really want and need?

Never allowing ourselves to become our real “self”?

This is no way to live?!

So how can we live differently?

It seems that when we come closer to our own death, we suddenly develop a worldly wisdom; an incredible new perspective of what is really important in life.

What’s the lesson?

In the end, life is all about: Happiness, love, relationships and finding and living your true self.

Becoming who you want to be…

The gift that you can give yourself is to start doing this now, rather than waiting until you are close to death and start listing your regrets, because by then it is too late.

On their deathbed, many people realise that they have worked too hard through life and missed their children’s youth and their partner’s companionship.

Or, they have fallen out of contact with friends.  It is not until the very end that we realise the full benefits of old friends. Everyone misses their friends when they are dying.

So try this exercise…

Grab a piece of blank paper and draw a big circle on it. This is your “Circle of Love”.

Now, in the circle write the names of all those people who you most love and cherish. It can include your family, friends, even pets if you wish…

Be honest. Include in the circle only those people who have the most special place in your heart…  These are the people that you want to spend the rest of your life with…  It’s harder than you think.

Next, pick the three people in the circle who you have not spoken to lately.

Then pick up your phone and simply call them.  Or send them a random text or email to say hello and ask them how they are?

Life is all about happiness, love and being yourself with the people you most care about.

In the midst of our gruesome schedules so many of us are letting our most important relationships slip away.

Prioritise your relationships – and the effort you make with those people in your circle of love.

Don’t wait until it’s too late. Start living now, today.