We all have regrets.
- Some are life-changing
- Some are minor and probably insignificant, but the still play a role in shaping our character and identity.
I believe we have more regrets as we get older, not just because we’ve experienced more in life and obviously we regret a certain number of those experiences, but also because we gain wisdom from our past regrets. This wisdom helps us better identify previous mistakes or regrets, and hopefully some potential future ones as well, keeping us from actually experiencing those.
We may have the same experiences in our memory, but now we’re wise enough to regret them.
There also may be repercussions as we get older that weren’t as obvious earlier in life.
Our children are a great example of this one. Over or under disciplining our children may not seem like an issue at the time, but the outcome in their lives will show up when they’re in their 20’s and, because you wanted to be the ‘cool dad, you didn’t teach them self-discipline.
Financial decisions may be another one that doesn’t really show up in a big way until you’re in your late 40’s and realize you really SHOULD have put something into your retirement account when that financial adviser told you.
So really, regrets are an indication of wisdom. Whether we’ve already had that wisdom and ignored it, or we developed the wisdom and now wish we had done something different.
Healthy Attitude tip 1:
Be grateful for your awareness of regrets. You’ve grown.
Imagine if you had done the same things, taken the same actions and ended up with the same results, but you had no regrets about it.
I think the “No Regrets” mantra is one born out of ignorance and sometimes even stubbornness.
We don’t want to ever admit we did something wrong, so we champion this “no regrets” thing.
There are websites devoted to tattoos that were meant to say “no regrets” but, ironically, they were misspelled. There’s even one featured in the movie “We’re The Millers” where the daughter introduces her new boyfriend who sports a tattoo on this chest that says “No Ragrets.”
Regret actions… but don’t let regret become part of your identity.
Analyse your regrets so you can clearly define where you took a bad turn. If you don’t know what you did that lead to your regrets, you won’t know what to avoid in the future. You may find yourself riddled with extreme caution and taking no action rather than taking well thought out and wise action.
I regret riding my bike down a giant dirt hill when I was 5 or 6 years old because it left me with a broken arm.
- I don’t avoid riding bikes now.
- I don’t avoid riding bikes down hills
- I do avoid riding a bike on a hill that’s beyond my skill level. I was 5 and could barely ride on a straight paved road and there I was trying to keep up with the older kids, riding down a giant rocky dirt hill. Ouch.
Healthy Attitude Tip 2:
Clearly chart the path to your past regrets. Don’t generalize.
You probably realize, your’e not the only one with regrets. We’ve all had them. But, we assume our regrets are worse or more consequential in life. But they’re usually not. This is the downfall of today’s communities. We spend time with the fake families on TV and the filtered friends in social media, instead of gathering in our neighborhoods with other real people who can openly share of their mistakes.
One thing I don’t regret is being part of a faith community that didn’t gather every Sunday to hear one professional member of the community give a very entertaining prepared speech or sermon. In our community, we all gathered to talk about life, share food and enjoy some adult beverages. Conversations ranged from politics, careers, family, hobbies, and everything else. We all learned from each other’s REAL LIFE experiences.
They say there’s only one thing better than learning from your mistakes, that’s learning from someone else’s mistakes. The same lesson without the same pain. Seek the advice of those who are older and have wisdom. We’ve already said we can learn from regrets and we tend to have more (or be aware of more) of them when we get older.
So ask some people older than you, “What do you regret?”
What do you regret?
I would love to knwo what regrets you may have in life and what you’ve learned from them. Would you Tweet it to me @PDesmondAdams and use the hashtage #successforfailures if you want to be able to track others who comment.