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Biggest Regrets: What Old People Regret The Most

Senior couple

“I regret nothing!” Can you say the same about your life? How wonderful! Nevertheless, there are probably always moments when you ask yourself: Do I really live my life the way I want to? Am I making the best of it? This is where older people reveal their biggest mistakes in life – so that we can avoid them.

If you don’t regret anything in the end, you probably haven’t led the most exciting life. This is what the gerontologist Karl Pillemer from Cornell University said on the “The Today Show” after his talks with more than 1500 older Americans. “These people can’t believe how we waste our time on earth – with petty arguments, resentments, and worries.”

Pillemer and his team asked people over the age of 65 which decisions in life they regret the most. Here are their 8 biggest mistakes – and how to avoid them:

1. I have not chosen my life partner carefully enough

Most respondents agreed that the choice of a partner is one of the most important in life. However, they would have the impression that many people are too impulsive when it comes to choosing a partner or that they act out of last-minute panic. Big mistake!

Their advice: take your time before making up your mind and find out if he is the right one. Better not marry the wrong one at all.

2. I have an unresolved family conflict

Among the most unhappy people, he interviewed were those who lost contact with a child or several children. Almost all of them wished they had done more to promote reconciliation and forgiveness, asked for forgiveness, or spoken more before it was too late. “At 80, it seems to be no longer worth the things for which one accepted a break at 40, Pillemer summed up. “Even when the relationship with the other children is excellent, the parents still suffer from the disagreement with one of the children.

Their advice: If it is in your power to resolve a conflict – whether with a child, a parent, siblings, or even a friend – do everything you can to do so!

3. I have kept my feelings to myself

Some of the older men regretted not having told their wives they loved them often enough, Pillemer said. But it wasn’t just about expressions of love in couple relationships, but all strong feelings that weren’t expressed.

Their advice: Do not wait. Say what you think we feel as long as the person is there. At some point, it will be too late.

4. I have not traveled enough

In old age, you will regret not having made the one or another trip. Even people who have traveled a lot would have ended their conversations with sentences like: “But I have never been to Japan …”.

Their advice: Travel is so fulfilling that you should spend money on it rather than on other things. One woman said to Pillemer:

If you have the choice between a new kitchen and a trip, take the trip.

5. I have worried too much

Many of the elderly people regretted worrying about things that never happened – or about things they could not control. “Life is so short. What you’ll regret in the end are the weeks and months of pointless and self-destructive worry,” some said to Pillemer.

Their advice: stop worrying so much. Worries are wasters of life.

6. I was not honest

Lying and cheating on others gnawed at some of the respondents – whether they were having an affair or otherwise dishonest. They also found it bad to have been lied to.

Their advice: Be as honest as possible. If not for moral reasons, then in order not to regret it later.

7. I did not seize career opportunities

An astonishing number of respondents said that they were sorry that they had not seized career opportunities – because they had been too comfortable or shunned the risk. “Our oldest generation tells us that we should say yes more often,” Pillemer summed up. It’s more likely that you will regret later not having taken a career step than not having taken it, and then realize that it may not have brought only good things with it.

Their advice: always say yes to a job opportunity unless there is a compelling reason not to do it.

8. I did not take care of my body

Older people who have smoked, not done any sports, or become overweight often regret this. But not only because they could die earlier as a result. Many people say to themselves: “I like smoking or eating, and I don’t like sports – what does it matter if I die a little earlier?'”, says Pillemer. “The problem today, however, is that you don’t die earlier, but may suffer for decades from a chronic illness because modern medicine keeps you alive.

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