I found this great article on a site actually called Weekday Wisdom, and it gives reprint permission! Is this meant to be or what? 😉
On the board to the side of my desk I have a cartoon from Peanuts. The four panels show Linus pulling his blanket behind him. As Snoopy goes to grab the blanket and run off with it, Linus says “Don’t do anything you might regret!” Snoopy is left to ponder the advice, and then says to himself “That’s good advice.”
And it is — don’t do anything you might regret. Or as I generally think of it, “Try not to do anything really stupid.”
The truth is that anyone who lives piles up a few regrets now and then — the job not taken, the person not married, the first marriage, the decision not followed, the weight not lost, the resolutions not kept. Everyone gets them, but for some reason, some people wind up being troubled by them, and others wind up leaving them in the dust.
Well, I’ve had my share of regrets, and let me share with you my approach to dealing with them. I imagine you’ve got your own — or perhaps not.
1. Don’t wallow in them. I don’t know why it’s human nature, but a lot of people like to sit and think about the “coulda, woulda, shoulda” things in life. Even when things are going good, these people sit and wallow in the regrets of the past. This is the first step — stop wallowing in it.
2. Accept your decisions that were made at the time. Most of us regret things where came to a fork in the road and took one path, forsaking another for evermore. Some of us, with the benefit of hindsight or the frustration of a life that hasn’t turned out the way we thought it might, look back to that decision point, and wonder. We wonder stupid things — because unless a time machine gets invented soon, we’re never going to be able to see what would have happened if we had taken that other path. The truth is that we cannot go back and change the past. We make decisions based on the best possible information we have at the time, and in later years, we must learn to respect those decisions. If you could crank back the clock and put yourself in the same position again, you’d probably do the same thing.
3. Stop worrying about the past. By its very definition, you can’t do anything about the past. Forget about it. Stop worrying about it. Don’t dwell in it. The past is past, the future is only a promise. Only the present matters, because that’s all you ever have.
4. Learn from your regrets. Your regrets are usually a clue to the changes you might make in the future, or any alterations you might make in your personality. Be braver or more cautious.. Take chances more, or take them less. Work harder, or not as much. Regrets are clues to changes that are needed, but you can only make those changes in the present — you can’t go back to the past to change things that happened, unless you’re Marty McFly.
5. Be happier about your present. If you could actually go back in time and change things, you’d most likely find that it wouldn’t have done a lot. Your life can’t be reformed by changing the past, but it can certainly be reformed by changing the present. Decide to be happier about who you are, and then decide to craft yourself a better tomorrow, by working on your weak spots today.
“Regrets, I’ve had a few, but then again, too few to mention…” goes the song. We all have regrets in life — or at least most of us have regrets in life — but the problem is never having the regrets themselves. The problems only arise when we spend our time wallowing in our regrets, chained to our past, including a past that never really existed.
Copyright, 2012, by Daryl R. Gibson. All rights reserved. Permission is hereby granted for the non-commercial redistribution of this document as long as it remains intact with this copyright and all other lines. This license does not extend to the use of this material in a compilation, whether for profit or non-profit use. Join us at http://www.weekdaywisdom.com.
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