One of the unfortunate aspects of life is the feeling of regret. Maybe unfortunate is the wrong term to use, but it is the first term that comes to mind. The whole idea of regret is that one is sad or disappointed in either an action or a missed opportunity.
However, in the idea of balance and perspective, what is regret if not an absolute learning tool? Yeah sure, it sucked that you were not able to go to the Taylor Swift concert that your daughter was begging you to take her too because you had to work late that day. Yeah sure, it sucked that you were checking your phone in while driving and ended up swerving lanes, getting noticed by a cop, and getting a hefty ticket for it. Yeah sure, it sucked that you decided to not ask for his/her number.
The examples above show the variety of breadth and depth of regret. What they all have in common, however, is that they all show different levels of control and opportunity.
Let’s take the easy one first….getting his/her number. Man, what a missed opportunity, right? Well, maybe or maybe not. The point is that to dwell on what could have been doesn’t actually solve anything. Next time you have an opportunity for a number, might as well take it. Doesn’t mean you have to use it, right? Learning Achieved!
How about the checking phone while driving? Sure, regretful. However, in the grand scheme of things, getting out of that situation with just a ticket is a godsend. We all know that scenario could have played out in a much more traumatic way. Next time, put the phone down, ensure no trauma from a simple regretful action. Learning Achieved!
Finally, the hard one. Missing a concert. What isn’t said in this example are the auxiliary details. Was a promise made to the daughter? Was the “working late” at work an emergency and unknown scenario? Too many scenarios to choose from, right? Well…maybe. The devil’s in the details, so the point is to examine each detail and determine if a better choice could have been made. It does not good to be regretful for things out of your control. But you can make small incremental changes for the better. Plus, there will always be more concerts to go to.
Examining how you are living your life is paramount to the success of living a happy life. I’m not saying it’s easy to make changes. We all know that it is not. But the first step to making changes is to realize that regretting the decisions you have made does not actually propel you forward. Learning from regretful decisions or moments is forward progress. And any amount, large or small, of forward progress is the right kind of progress to make.