What does it mean to live a life of no regrets?
You know how sometimes you have to keep re-learning the same things? And how sometimes a really old idea hits you in a totally new way and it’s like OH MY GOSH! TREAT PEOPLE THE WAY YOU WANT TO BE TREATED! (Bad example; I think the Golden Rule is confusing and misleading, but you get what I’m saying).
One of those things for me right now is a sliver-lining thing: embracing my regrets. I'm choosing to no longer be a victim of my past decisions, relationships, or experiences, and instead embrace them as having helped me become the person I want to become - the person who can look back on those things with far more maturity and clarity and insight than she ever could have without those experiences. Without this perspective, I can easily regret almost everything I’ve done in my life - not because I think I made “bad” choices but because those choices have added up to a life that’s so far from what I expected of myself at 34. Then again, I’ve had more personal growth in the last 15, 10, especially the last two years than I could have achieved in a lifetime of killing it on Wall Street or whatever out-in-the-world thing I think I should or could have done.
Ironically, I’ve lived most of my life in fear of regret, making decisions according to what I think I’m least likely to regret - which, by the way, is impossible to truly know. And, sure enough, as my beliefs have evolved, it’s been easy to think of many of my past decisions in a regretful way. But through those experiences I learned discipline, sympathy, patience, gentleness…things that do not come naturally to me and may never have become part of me had I not made so many of those “regretful” decisions.
I now have a new way of understanding the pursuit of a life with no regrets. It’s impossible to know what Future Monica will regret, but I can definitely say she would regret not growing. And growth means Future Monica won’t be able to stand by everything Current Monica says or does or believes right now.And that is scary! It keeps me from saying and doing and believing now, because I’m sure I’ll say and do and believe differently in the future. And yet, that is what I ultimately want because THAT IS GROWTH.
So I will continue to try to live a life of no regrets, but what that now means to me is I will choose to see my past and my future as lessons and growth points and the forging of a path toward becoming the person I’m so excited to be.
Do you have a fear of regret? Have you ever done anything you thought you would regret, but later turned out to be a decision you're pleased with? I'd love to hear about it!