5 Common Regrets to Avoid

Happy Tips Tuesday everyone! Today’s Tips Tuesday comes from Tiny Buddha.

There are so many wonderful insights in this article. The 5 common regrets offer us tips on how to live a life of meaning, joy, satisfaction…so that ultimately in our twilight years, we are surrounded by many wonderful memories, instead of regrets.

Without further adieu, here are the 5 tips:

1. I wish I’d experienced more.

Upon reflection, many of my fellow rehab patients regretted not having experienced more, and vowed to do so once they “got out.” The experiences ranged from various things to do, see, or hear, but the most common was the regret at having not traveled more.

The sad irony was that many patients, like me, would be leaving the hospital in a wheelchair or with restricted movement. So experiencing more travel would not be an option.

Resolution: From now on I’m going to experience more.

2. I wish I’d listened more.

Many patients regretted not listening more to the advice of their doctor, family members, or well-meaning friends. I remember one larger woman who recalled her doctor advising her to lose weight. At the time, she believed he was “fat shaming” her and had not listened, until she had a resulting stroke.

One man regretted not having listened to his “nagging” family who had warned him against frequently poor diet choices. Diabetes took his leg and left him with regret.

Resolution: From now on I’m going to listen more.

3. I wish I hadn’t been so afraid to fail.

With their second chance at life, many patients were prepared to step out of their comfort zones in the future. Some patients had been so close to death (arguably the ultimate failure) that they no longer feared so many little failures in their day, such as failing to live up to other people’s expectations.

Resolution: From now on I won’t fear failure.

4. I wish I’d stood up for myself more.

Patients regretted not having voiced their opinions more frequently and stood up for themselves and their values or beliefs. Some had spent years in unhappy relationships or unfulfilling work, and it was only their hospitalization that had been their catalyst for change.

Resolution: From now on I’ll stand up for myself more.

5. I wish I hadn’t waited so long to…

The regret of procrastination was also common, and something that resonated with me. Patients said that they wished they’d done a certain something sooner—pick up the phone, seen the doctor, reunite with a friend… The list went on.

Resolution: From now on I’m going to stop waiting and start doing!

There were many similarities between the regrets of the dying and the regrets of the living.

However, the key difference was that my fellow patients and I all had an opportunity to take action on our regrets of the past and ensure they would not be regrets of the future.

Regrets are a very tricky thing. In some cases, regrets are wonderful teachers, giving us little signs on the road of life as to what NOT to do. This knowledge allows us to avoid problems in the future.

But the biggest danger of regrets are that in some cases, they cannot be undone. Sometimes it may be too late to change something. Sometimes, the window of opportunity is gone. The significance of regret, when it is too late, is a feeling that is beyond measure. There are very few things in life that we cannot change or undo or redeem. But regrets sometimes are the black hole to these.

Keep your mind and eyes open for the things in life that you may regret. Try to avoid them wherever possible by taking action, and keeping the insights above in mind.

A life without regret, is a life lived well.


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