“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!