Overcoming Regret

on May 23 | in Life | by | with No Comments

I came across an article a few weeks ago on regret and overcoming it.  I’m surrounded by a lot of people who’ve had a fairly good life by any standard in the world.  Most are smart, have lovely children, exciting careers and really don’t have to scrounge to be able to eat at night or worry that an illness will wipe them out.  However, there’s something about middle age which forces one to confront what we didn’t do.  That’s mostly what causes regret.

Yep many of us look back at dumb things we did and wish we didn’t do them.  However, in my mind that’s not really regret.  I have one.  Years ago, I was helping this lovely cousin of someone I knew with essays for getting into Business School.  I’d always felt that the person whose cousin this guy had the misfortune of being, did me wrong.  Now if I was smarter, I should have said, “no.”  Instead, I tried to help.  However, most kids from top notch engineering schools will probably never be able to write a good essay.  That’s okay because really, they’ve got a whole host of skills.  They’ll probably never need to write well, until, they’re far along in their careers, so with time and writing work memos, they’ll improve.

I was mean.  Yep…I explained, explained again, then was mean.  Mean is no way to teach a skill.  Whenever I think about it, I am filled with shame.  IThat was an “I’ll not do that again,” experience.  I was soooo way out of line wrong.  However, that is not really regret.

We usually regret what we didn’t do.  Regret happens when we didn’t have the discipline, or the gumption, or the ability to persuade someone to do what we want.  Graduating from high school, I’d gotten a full tuition scholarship to attend the University of Western Ontario.  However, it would have involved parental funding as it was several hours away.  Though there would have been not tuition, there would have been living expenses.  I didn’t push my parents, but quietly and unhappily went to a college which allowed me to live at home.

How does one deal with regret?  Well I’ll rely on a blog, “Barking up the wrong tree,” for some solutions.   This guy writes for Wired and Time…he’s good.  From surveys  Eric Barker writes, the Big Three of our biggest regrets are in the education, career and romance department in exactly that order.  See my regret of not attending the University of my choice is most common.  The big three are such a big deal because the right choices in these three may change our lives.

What we actually  regret whatever the area is, is missed opportunity and we are more likely to regret what we didn’t do by a three to one ratio.  Like I missed the right college others may miss “not studying hard enough,” not grabbing a business or career opportunity which came their way.  Lastly we regret not spending enough time with those important to us.  The funny thing is if it happens so commonly, its part of the human condition.

How do we move past regret?  There’s only one surefire way.  For whatever which comes along, just like that rather quite decent , 2008 film movie “Yes Man,” with Jim Carrey, you just say “yes” to the opportunities which come your way in the future.   Yes, it really is that simple.  As for me, I’ll try to maximize every opportunity which comes my way.  As for the regrets of my bad behavior, well they keep me from ever so mean to anyone else.

Well last week, I wrote about Rahul Gandhi.   I’m sure he beats me hands down and I bet he has regrets in all three.



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