The writer of this article tells us a story about his grandfather who was in the final decade of his life. Every single day he woke up at 7 AM and picked a fresh wildflower on his morning walk and took it to his wife. One morning, the writer decided to go with his grandfather and see his grandmother. And as his grandfather placed the flower on her gravestone, he looked up at his nephew and said: “I just wish I had picked a fresh flower every morning when she was alive. She really would have loved that.”
As we can guess, the words of his grandfather touched a nerve in his nephew. And over the years, he has often reflected on what he said that morning and how his sentiment relates to everyone and everything he cared about.
He says that when he will be on the cusp of his 80’s, he doesn’t want to sit with regrets. He doesn’t want to wish he had done things differently – especially something as simple, yet meaningful, as picking wildflowers for the love of his life.
Do you agree with this?
To an extent, we know that you do agree.
In the end, more than anything else, we regret the small chances which we didn’t take. Furthermore, we regret the priceless relationships that we were too busy to nurture, and the good decisions that we waited too long to make. We have learned this through extensive experience. In the lines below, we are going to present you ten of the most common regrets and then cover some principles and strategies in order to avoid and overcome them.
1. Not spending enough quality time with the right people.
At some point, you will want to be around just a few people who make you smile for all the right reasons. So today, you should spend more time with those that help you love yourself more. In addition, make sure you spend more time with those that make you feel good. You should spend less time with those people who you feel pressured to impress. Never be too busy to make room in your day for the ones that matter the most. And remember – nothing that you can give will ever be more appreciated than your sincere, focused attention – your full presence. Truly being with a person, or listening without a clock, as well as without anticipation of the next event, will be the ultimate compliment.
2. Not expressing your love openly and honestly with those that you love.
Without question, you are going to lose some people in your life. What you will have to understand is that no matter how much of your time you have passed with someone, or how much you appreciate that person, sometimes it will never seem like you had enough time spent together. You should not learn this lesson the hard way. Feel free to express your love and tell people what you have to tell them. You should not shy away from important conversations, as you feel awkward or uncomfortable. You never know when you may lose the only opportunity you have. It is really possible to tell someone your feelings. They may not always understand, as even they have heard you and they cannot feel exactly what you feel inside. But, you will still have to speak up for your own peace of mind. If today you appreciate some person, you should tell that person. If you have something else important to say, you should say it. Hearts are usually confused, as well as broken open by words left unspoken.
3. Being a significant portion of your self – worth on other people’s opinions about
We usually tend to forget that a lot of people judge us based on the experiences from their own life which have absolutely nothing to do with us. For instance, a person may assume some things about us based entirely on a troubled past experience that they had with someone else that looks somewhat like you. Because of this, basing any part of your self – worth on that they actually think will put you into limbo – you are literally at the mercy of their unreliable, bias perspective. If they actually see you in the right light, as well as respond to you in a positive and affirming manner, then you will feel good about yourself. And if not, you will feel like you have done something wrong. The bottom line is that you will never find your worth in another human being. You will find it in yourself and then you will attract those that are worthy of your energy. And in the meantime, not overreacting or taking some things personally will keep your mind clear, as well as your heart at peace.
4. Being too busy impressing other people and forgetting about what matters to you.
Ten years from now, it will not really matter what shoes you wore today or how your hair looked. It won’t matter what brand of clothes you wore. What will really matter is how you lived, as well as how you loved, and what you have learned along the way. So, you should forget about impressing other people for the sake of it. Instead, you should be real. If you want to impress some person, you should impress yourself by progress on something that you are sincerely proud of. Remember to focus on what really matters. It is truly amazing what you can accomplish in a day when you are not incessantly worried about what everyone else in the world is thinking, as well as doing. You just need to show yourself that you can grow and get better as well. It is never about impressing or competing with other people. In the end, it is just you vs. you.
5. Letting uncertainty paralyze you.
You should trust us now and thank us later, embrace uncertainty. Because some of the most incredible chapters of your life will not have a title, you will somehow feel more comfortable with until much later. Living is a risky business and every decision, as well as every interaction, every step, every time that you get out of bed in the morning, you will take a small and uncertain risk. To truly live means to know that you are getting up and taking that risk, as well as to trust yourself in order to take it. If you don’t and if you let uncertainty win, you will actually never know anything for sure, and in a lot of ways, this unknowing will be actually worse than finding out your hunch was wrong. You should remember to find the courage that you need. You will not need guarantees 24/7 because that is not how life works. In life, we can be comfortable or courageous, but not both of them at once.
6. Focusing on failures instated of opportunities.
Well, maybe it is true that you failed in the past and that you have also been hurt, but it is also true that you have loved and you have also been loved. It is true that you have risked and received as well. It is true that you have grown not just older, but wiser as well. Actually, all of this carries a weight of its own – that is a greater weight than any particular failure or wound. In fact, it will be better to have a life which is full of small wounds and failures that you have learned from, rather than a lifetime which is filled with the regrets of never trying. You should think about it. Usually, it takes pain, as well as patience in order to make lasting progress. So do not let time pass you by like a hand waving from a train that you desperately want to be on. You should not spend the rest of your life thinking about why you didn’t do what you can do right now.
7. Holding on too tight to every ideal, and then missing out on real opportunities.
You cannot lose what you have never had, and you cannot keep what is not yours. You cannot hold on to something which does not want to stay. But, you can actually drive yourself mad by trying. What you have to realize is that most of the things are just a part of your life, as you keep thinking about them. So, you will have to stop holding on to the things that hurt you and make some space for what feels right. You should not let what is out of your control interferes with all the things that you can control. When some people walk away from you, and some opportunities close their doors for you, there will actually be no need to hold on to them or pray to keep them present in your life. If they close you out, you should take it as a direct indication that those people, as well as circumstances and opportunities, are not a part of the next chapter of your life.
8. Playing the victim for far too long.
If you always play the victim in everything, you will always be treated like one. Life is not fair with everyone, but you will not have to let the past define your future. You should remember that time when you thought that you could not make it through. You should not let your challenges get the best of you. Do not let your insecurities bully you into a corner. You should not be your own victim. Take the next smallest step. The greatest of all mistakes is to do nothing simply as you can only do a little. And you can always do a little. It is necessary where you are right now. More often, we avoid to experience where exactly we had developed our belief, which is based on our ideas, that is not where we should be. But, the reality is, where you are right now is exactly where you need to be in order to take the next smallest step forward.
9. Waiting, overanalyzing, as well as never taking the necessary steps.
Usually, we tend to waste our time waiting for the ideal path to appear, but it never does, as we forget that paths are often made by walking, not by waiting. You should remember this. It is very easy to be lazy and wait around. It is also easy to waste another day. But, you should not need to do the opposite. Decide what you want to accomplish and get it done. Action is the worst enemy of worry. It is the best ammunition. Action brings us progress, so you should not confuse senseless movement with real action. Whenever you find yourself at a point of intense decision – making where you are caught in a cycle of over-analysis and hesitation, as well as you are making zero progress, you should take a deep breath, break the cycle and make an educated guess on the next logical step and take it. Even when you get it wrong, you will learn something that will be useful and that will help you in getting it right. The ultimate key is a daily ritual of small and positive steps.
10. Being too busy to appreciate your life.
You should take some action, work hard, but also do not forget to pause, as well as pay some attention to the little moments of your life too. That is honestly the best advice there is. You should realize that life is simply a collection of little chances for happiness each of them lived one moment at a time. Make sure you realize that sometimes each day should be spent noticing the beauty in the space between the big events. But the most important thing of all that you should realize is that life is actually about being present and watching and listening and working without a clock, as well as without anticipation of results at every time and sometimes on days that are really good. Truth being told, you will inevitably, whether tomorrow or on your deathbed, come to wish you had spent less time worrying and rushing through your life, and more time being mindful, as well as appreciative of each day.
How to overcome regrets that you already have?
The points that we mentioned above are crucial reminders, but what if you already have some regrets that desperately are struggling with?
Without any doubts, the feelings of regrets sometimes sneak up on the best of us. As alluring as the idea of living regrets–free life sounds, it is a rare and easy feat.
Oftentimes, before we actually realize what our minds are dwelling on…
- We make regrets for the chances we missed;
- We regret because as we haven’t spent our time and energy properly;
- Have regrets about situations, as well as conversations that didn’t go well;
- We make regrets for not speaking up when we had the chance to;
- Regrets for getting into toxic relationships or for making some mistakes in past relationships.
And even when we know better, we tend to regret things. And we do so simply because we worry that we should have made some other decisions in the past. We regret because we think that we should have done a better job, but we didn’t. Moreover, we should have given a relationship another chance, but we didn’t. We should have started some business but we didn’t.
We actually compare the real outcomes of our past decisions to an ideal fantasy of how the things “should” have been.
Of course, the problem is that we cannot change those decisions, as we cannot change our past. But, still, we use to resist this truth to no end and we also keep overanalyzing, as well as comparing the unchangeable reality to our ideal fantasy until we have wasted the days of our lives in head-spinning misery.
But, why is that so?
If we logically know better, why we cannot just let all our ideals and fantasies go?
It is because we identify personally with those ideals and fantasies. All of us have this vision in our minds of who we actually are – our well-meaning intentions, as well as our intelligence, our social impact, etc. And, we also make the best decisions that we can, of course, as again, we generally mean well.
When a person says something about us that contradict the vision of ourselves which we identify with – they insult our intention, as well as our intelligence and our status – and we take offense. We feel personally attacked and we also have a hard time to let go.
Something very similar to this will also happen when we believe that we did something, we made some mistake, something that contradicts that same vision or ourselves which we identify with. We take offense and in some cases, we even implode on ourselves – we berate ourselves for making the mistake.
Again, we will have a hard time to let go. We will have a hard time to come to grips with the fact that we are not always as good as the vision that we have for ourselves. So, the ideals and fantasies that we have about ourselves tend to cause us lots of misery.
The key about this is to gradually practice letting go of these ideals and fantasies, as well as focusing instead on making the best of reality.
The truth actually must be embraced.
- Every bad decision which we have made in the past is done and none of them can be changed. In fact, there is something good in every one of the bad decisions that we have made as well, if we choose to see it. Just having the ability to make a decision at all is a gift, as is having the ability to wake up in the morning, as well as having the ability to learn and grow from our wide-ranging life experiences.
- Actually, we are not what we envision ourselves to be, at least not always. Before everything, we are humans and therefore we are multi-layered and imperfect. We do some good things, we also make mistakes and we give back. We are selfish, we are honest and we also tell lies sometimes. Even when we are being at our absolute best, we are prone to slip. At the moment when we are going to embrace this and we will get comfortable with our humanness, making bad decisions will tend to conflict a lot less with our new, as well as more flexible vision of ourselves.
All of this is easier to be said than done, but every time when you find yourself obsessing over and regretting a past decision, you can 1) acknowledge that you are falling into this pattern, 2) realize that there is some ideal or fantasy that you are comparing your decision and yourself too, as well as 3) let go of this ideal or fantasy and embrace a wider range of reality by making some peace with what is behind you, so you can focus more on what follows. It all takes constant practice. But, you will not regret it.
It is your turn…
One day, you will find yourself close to the end, thinking about your beginning.
Today is your beginning!
Today is the first day of the rest of your life!
You should motivate yourself to start right now by answering one simple question:
“What is the one thing that I can do today that I know will not regret about?”