10 common regrets people have before dying, according to psychology

There’s something profoundly enlightening about exploring the regrets people often have when they’re nearing the end of their life.

In psychology, it’s well known that reflecting on our own mortality can provide a powerful perspective on life.

Now, I’m Lachlan Brown, the founder of Hack Spirit and a devoted follower of mindfulness and Buddhism. In my journey, I’ve learned that understanding these regrets can help us live more fulfilling lives.

In this article, we’ll be diving into “10 common regrets people have before dying, according to psychology”. Through this exploration, we might just learn how to live more fully, with fewer regrets in the end.

Life is fleeting but we all have the power to shape our journey. Let’s delve into these insights and find ways to navigate life with fewer regrets.

1) Living life true to oneself

If there’s one thing I’ve learned from my journey into mindfulness and Buddhism, it’s the importance of authenticity.

Regret often stems from a life lived according to others’ expectations, not our own. As we approach the end, we start to realize how much we’ve let others’ opinions shape our choices.

Psychology supports this observation. Many people on their deathbed express regret about not having the courage to live a life true to themselves, but instead, living a life others expected of them.

This is a powerful reminder for us all to follow our own path. To live authentically and genuinely. To make choices based on what truly aligns with our values and aspirations, not what we believe will please or impress others.

Make sure it reflects who you truly are. Live without the mask and let your authentic self-shine through. It’s one of the best ways to avoid this common regret.

2) Investing time in relationships

As humans, we are social creatures. We crave connections and relationships. Yet, in the hustle and bustle of life, we often neglect those bonds that truly matter.

One common regret people have before dying is not having invested enough time in their relationships. We get so caught up in the daily grind that we forget to cherish the people around us.

I personally experienced this regret when I lost a dear friend. Looking back, I wish I’d spent more time with him, creating more memories.

Thich Nhat Hanh, a renowned mindfulness expert and Zen master, once said, “The most precious gift we can offer others is our presence. When mindfulness embraces those we love, they will bloom like flowers.”

Let’s take these wise words to heart and remember to invest time in our relationships. Let’s be truly present with those we care about before it’s too late.

3) Letting go of the ego

One of the most profound lessons I’ve learned in my exploration of Buddhism is the importance of letting go of our ego. It’s a vital aspect of living a mindful and fulfilled life.

As death approaches, many people regret having let their ego dictate their choices and actions. They wish they had lived with less pride, less self-centeredness, and more humility.

In my book, Hidden Secrets of Buddhism: How To Live With Maximum Impact and Minimum Ego, I delve deeper into how the ego can hinder our growth and happiness.

It’s never too late to start this journey towards living with maximum impact and minimum ego. Don’t let regret catch you off guard.

4) Embracing change

Change is a constant in life. Yet, many of us resist it, clinging to what’s familiar and comfortable.

A common regret people have before dying is not having embraced change more openly. They wish they had seized more opportunities, tried new things, and let go of the fear of the unknown.

The renowned philosopher, Alan Watts, once said, “The only way to make sense out of change is to plunge into it, move with it, and join the dance.”

And how beautifully true this is. We can’t predict or control everything in life, but we can control how we react to change.

Let’s join the dance. Let’s take risks, embrace new opportunities, and accept change with open arms. Let’s live our lives to the fullest so that we have no room for regrets when our time comes.

5) Understanding and living by your values

One of the key lessons I’ve learned in my journey is the importance of understanding my core values. It’s a foundation for making decisions that align with who I truly am.

Regrettably, many people reach the end of their lives and realize they didn’t live according to their values. Instead, they let societal pressures or fleeting trends dictate their choices.

My friend, the talented Life Transition coach Jeanette Brown, has developed an incredibly insightful Defining Your Values Exercise. It’s a practical tool to help you identify your core values and understand how they influence your actions.

By understanding our values, we can make decisions that align with our true selves. It’s a crucial step towards living a life of authenticity and fulfillment.

6) Taking care of health

Our health is our wealth, yet we often take it for granted.

Many people nearing the end of their life regret not taking better care of their health when they had the chance. They wish they had eaten better, exercised more regularly, and managed stress more effectively.

It’s never too late to start taking care of your health. Simple daily habits can go a long way in improving your overall well-being.

Start with small changes like incorporating more fruits and vegetables into your diet, taking a walk every day, or learning to meditate. These little steps add up over time, leading to significant improvements in health and well-being.

Our health is our most valuable asset. Let’s take care of it so we can enjoy life to its fullest without any regrets.

7) Practicing gratitude

In my personal journey and teachings of mindfulness, one element has consistently held a profound impact – gratitude.

Regrettably, many individuals realize too late that they spent too much time focusing on what they didn’t have instead of appreciating what they did have.

Gratitude is a powerful practice that can transform our perspective on life. It helps us appreciate the simple joys, acknowledge the kindness of others, and recognize our own achievements.

It’s a personal practice that I’ve incorporated into my daily routine and I’ve seen how it positively influences my mindset and overall well-being.

8) Pursuing passions

Life is too short not to pursue what truly makes us happy.

One common regret people have before dying is not allowing themselves the freedom to follow their passions. They wish they had spent less time on work or obligations and more on what truly brought them joy.

As the late Steve Jobs once said, “Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do.”

This statement resonates deeply with me, and I hope it does with you too. It’s a reminder for us all to follow our passions, to do what we love, and create a life that brings us joy.

9) Embracing imperfections

In a world that often pushes us towards perfection, embracing our imperfections could seem counterintuitive. Yet, it’s a key aspect of living without regret.

Many people nearing the end of their lives regret the energy they wasted in pursuing perfection. They wish they had accepted their flaws and imperfections and lived more freely.

I’ve personally found that embracing my imperfections has brought me closer to peace and self-acceptance. It’s liberating to accept that we are not perfect, and that’s perfectly okay.

Let’s remember that our imperfections make us unique. They are part of our story, our journey. By embracing them, we can live more authentically and with less regret. It’s a refreshing way to live, wouldn’t you agree?

10) Forgiving and letting go

Holding onto resentment and grievances can weigh heavily on our hearts. As we approach the end of our lives, these burdens become even more apparent.

A common regret people have before dying is not forgiving and letting go of past hurts. They wish they had released these negative emotions to live a more peaceful and joyful life.

The practice of forgiveness is simple yet powerful. It doesn’t mean forgetting or condoning the hurtful actions, but it means freeing ourselves from the burden of resentment.

So let’s make a conscious decision today to forgive, to let go of past hurts. It’s a liberating step towards living a life without regrets.


Understanding these common regrets can offer us invaluable insights to live more fulfilling lives.

From embracing our imperfections to investing in relationships, from practicing gratitude to letting go of the ego, each of these lessons can lead us towards a life with fewer regrets and more joy.

Remember, it’s never too late to start living authentically and in alignment with our values. If you need some guidance, I highly recommend Jeanette Brown’s Defining Your Values Exercise. It’s a practical tool that can help you understand your core values and live a life true to yourself.

Let’s seize the day, follow our passions, and live a life we’re proud of. After all, we only get one shot at this journey called life. Let’s make it count.

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Lachlan Brown

I’m Lachlan Brown, the founder, and editor of Hack Spirit. I love writing practical articles that help others live a mindful and better life. I have a graduate degree in Psychology and I’ve spent the last 15 years reading and studying all I can about human psychology and practical ways to hack our mindsets. Check out my latest book on the Hidden Secrets of Buddhism and How it Saved My Life. If you want to get in touch with me, hit me up on Facebook or Twitter.

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