Positive Regret?

by Michael Corthell

Regret hurts, right? It's a feeling like homesickness, a feeling of what might have been.

If only I had_________.  But, and understand this — regret is a good thing. Why? It is a pointed and profound learning experience. Handled correctly we grow and become better, more well-rounded human beings. It has everything to do with acceptance.

''Make the most of your regrets; never smother your sorrow, but tend and cherish it till it comes to have a separate and integral interest. To regret deeply is to live afresh.''
— Henry David Thoreau

In the short term folks are more likely to regret negative actions and mistakes they've made, but in the long term they are more likely to regret missed opportunities and actions not taken such as not spending enough time with family etc.

However, there is much value to be had by being regretful.

We make sense of the world. ''I tried this and it didn't work.'' Character building.

We avoid future mistakes. Experience. Helps in choosing the right path.

We gain insight. Wisdom brings peace of mind.

We find and can achieve social harmony. Getting along and working well with others.

We become more assertive and bold. We have a more refined ability to reach for, and grab opportunities. (because we regret our past missed opportunities)

The negative side of regret is remorse. The simple answer to that it, ''Do you have a time-machine?''
No, at least not yet, right? So if you can't change it, leave it in the past and deal with it by learning from it.

''God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference.''
— Reinhold Niebuhr

Life is learning, it's a journey. We all make mistakes but all these mistakes and missteps can be opportunities to learn important, even valuable lessons. Lessons about ourselves, our ways of handing experiences, honing our ethics and values, lessening our vulnerabilities. We learn about and appreciate other people more plus we learn how better to take care of ourselves and our world. 

We are all unique. Live life your way. Own it.


Not Regretting Regret

We're taught to try to live life without regret. But why? Using her own tattoo as an example, Kathryn Schulz makes a powerful and moving case for embracing our regrets.

Kathryn Shultz is the author of  ''Being Wrong: Adventures in the Margin of Error''