Regrets

by Lance Ekum on · 54 comments

147/365 - Body Language.
Creative Commons License photo credit: just.K

“I like the dreams of the future bet­ter than the his­tory of the past.” ~ Thomas Jefferson

Regret: Pain of mind on account of some­thing done or expe­ri­enced in the past, with a wish that it had been dif­fer­ent; a look­ing back with dis­sat­is­fac­tion or with long­ing; grief; sor­row; espe­cially, a mourn­ing on account of the loss of some joy, advan­tage, or satisfaction

On my last Sun­day Thought For The Day post, I included the fol­low­ing quote:

“Twenty years from now you will be more dis­ap­pointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bow­lines. Sail away from the safe har­bor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Dis­cover.” ~ Mark Twain

This sparked a lot of con­ver­sa­tion, some of which touched upon regrets.  This was a dif­fer­ent angle than I had thought about when I posted the quote.  I viewed this quote by Mark Twain as forward-looking.  Where are we going with our lives from here for­ward.  Another angle to this, though, is our past.  Our past has cre­ated who we are to this day.  We have become who we are because of all the things we’ve done or haven’t done in our life.  Or all the things that have been done to us.  The deci­sion we’ve made.  The places we’ve been.  Or haven’t.

And some of those things that have hap­pened in the past may have led to regrets.  You might say that we shouldn’t have regrets in our lives.  That we are shaped by the choices we’ve made, and that has led us to where we are.  But I ques­tion, are there not cer­tain things you may have wanted to do dif­fer­ently?  For me, that is regret.  And I don’t see that as nec­es­sar­ily bad.  It’s a learn­ing moment for us, when we can look back, learn from our past mis­takes, and move forward.

For instance, I regret not get­ting more involved in more extra cur­ric­u­lar activ­i­ties in col­lege.  I became too focused on two things — doing well aca­d­e­m­i­cally, and hav­ing fun with friends (do they really go together??).  And I missed out on devel­op­ing both new inter­ests and new friends.  Look­ing back, I wish I had tried more activ­i­ties.  So, I regret that.  But I can also learn from it.  I can take away from this that try­ing new things is a great way to get out of my com­fort zone and find new interests.

In the com­ments from Sunday’s post, Stacey Ship­man pointed me in the direc­tion of another quote that really speaks volumes.

“As you grow older, you’ll find the only things you regret are the things you didn’t do.” ~ Zachary Scott

The things we typ­i­cally regret the most are the things we didn’t do.  It leads to the point, that many regrets stem from not doing, from not tak­ing action.  And the take away on this is that in our daily lives, we should do those things which take us out of our com­fort zone, those things which bring us great joy, those things which chal­lenge us.  Even if we fail.  Our lives will be more ful­filled know­ing that we DID instead of did not.

Another recent arti­cle on this is from Jamie at Blue Duck Copy, talk­ing about what you would do dif­fer­ently if you knew you only had 30 days to live.  What would you change in your life, so you would have no regrets?  This is pow­er­ful, if you really, deeply think about it.  What changes would you make today?  Are there things in your life you would change if you knew you would only be here for one more month?  Think about it.  And then make these changes in your life.

Regret.  Whether it’s from your actions or inac­tions, things that you wish we had done dif­fer­ently.  But also things that have hap­pened in the past.  The past you can­not change.  You have this moment in time where you are at right now.  You can use your regrets as knowl­edge of where you’ve been.  And then move on.  Take each moment of your life and be fully present.  Live today, to be fully alive and con­nected with what mat­ters to you — every day.

Your future does not have to be tied to what has hap­pened in your past.  You can choose, now, how you want to live your life.  The choice is yours!  Live the life you want, going for­ward.  While you can­not change the past, and any regrets that you have from it, you can choose how to live your life today.  Choose to live the life you are pas­sion­ate about!

Lance writes sto­ries from his heart, aim­ing to inspire and moti­vate, as you align more fully with YOUR true peak. When he’s not here, you can find him hang­ing out with his fam­ily, rid­ing a bike, or just gen­er­ally act­ing goofy.   Sign up for the Thoughts from the Tree­house newslet­ter and get addi­tional inspi­ra­tion in your email inbox!
Lance Ekum
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