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Living With No Regrets

What is regret? Regret is one of those emotions that sucks the life out of you. It’s recognizing you made a mistake, failed to do something, let an opportunity slip through your fingers, and then beating yourself up about it.

You should have done things differently — so what? There’s no need to beat yourself up. Life and other people will do that for you. Your role is to recognize what happened and learn from it. What made things go wrong? Why was that action a mistake? What could you do better next time? Only then can you resolve to do things differently next time. And there will be a next time. Maybe not identical circumstances, but similar enough for you to exercise your newfound wisdom.

Like everyone, I’ve made plenty of mistakes, done lots of idiotic things. Most of them turned out all right in the end, because even when you take a wrong turn, you can usually find your way back to the path you were trying to follow. Most of them I wouldn’t wish undone, because good things came from them.

Nonetheless, there are a few I wish I could change. One of them is not telling my best friend in high school how much he meant to me and letting him slip out of my life. It’s a rare day I don’t think of him and miss him. If I ever find him again, I’ll tell him and beg his forgiveness.

Another is waiting until the late stages of life to do what I always knew I was destined to do. I could never resist the call entirely, but I didn’t give it the attention and intention it deserved. Who knows, I could have been a world-famous author by now. But I’m following my dream now and have never felt so fulfilled.

There’s an old proverb I heard when I was young: we get too soon old and too late smart. I can’t help thinking that’s almost the way it has to be. Life teaches us lessons we need to learn. Things like “follow your heart. Do what it tells you.” Too often we hold back for fear of what others will think or say, or go down a different road to please someone else.

You can’t live someone else’s life for them. That’s up to them. You can only live your own life, in the light of your own inner wisdom, slight as it may be. You may be the drummer to whose beat the others march. But you won’t find out if you never reach for the drumsticks.

Any of us could be many things: poet, musician, beach bum, world leader, philosopher, healer, teacher, spiritual advisor. We have so much potential it’s hard for our minds to grasp. One of them calls to you. It may call in a whisper or an urgent summons.

Listen. Answer. Forge ahead with no regrets. If you make a mistake, learn from it, resolve to do differently next time, and move on. Life’s too short for regrets.

Let me know in the comments: what would you do differently if you had the chance?

emotion, regret

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