Regretful Thinking

H. Jackson Brown, Jr. once said, “When you look back on your life, you’ll regret the things you didn’t do more than the ones you did.”  He’s not the only one who’s written about regret, in fact if you google it, you’ll find all sorts of advice and sayings on the subject.  But for the most part, they all say the same thing. “You’ll regret the things you didn’t do more than the ones you did.”

I’m not so sure I agree with this…in fact, the more I think about it, the more it kinda starts to sound like something someone who has done a lot to regret tells themselves at night to make themselves feel better.  “Well, yeah, I regret it, but if I hadn’t done it, I would definitely be feeling a lot worse right about now.”

Not that I’m saying we should all just fear making a mistake and never do anything – because obviously living under a rock is not going to get you anywhere in life, (and seriously, what if there’s an earthquake and the rock falls on you??).  No, I’d rather live with the room to breathe and make a few mistakes now and then (and run in case of emergencies…).  Because either way you look at it, regret is regret.  And at the end of the day, if you’re sitting there regretting something – whether it’s something you did or did not do – it’s still gonna suck.  Soooo…you might as well just jump in with both feet then, and see where you land, right?

Okay, so it’s not like I TOTALLY disagree with the guy.  Since yes, in some situations that’s exactly what you should do.

But in others…

Well, let me just say that I have a few regrets in my life.  Nothing huge.  No giant scandals, just the average stuff that occurs over the course of a lifetime. Over the course of “growing up.”  Still, there are definitely some things in my life that I wish had turned out differently.  Some people who aren’t in my life anymore who I wish still were.  But that’s kind of my point.  The things that I regret most in life so far are the things that I’ve done…(and if you knew me you would know this is NOT because I am a daredevil and go after every opportunity – in fact, I’ve pretty much had to be dragged kicking and screaming in to every new experience I’ve encountered).  It’s because sometimes we just aren’t mature enough to understand all of the consequences to our decisions – or because we can’t know all the consequences to a given situation until we’re in the very middle of it.  Either way, everything we do has a ripple effect, mostly because everything we do affects someone else, and you can never know or control how another person is going to act or think at any given moment.  So, did I learn from those regrets?  Of course, because otherwise the pain would have been pointless.  And whether or not a situation goes the way we want it to, it’s always an opportunity to learn and grow – to do things differently in the future.  But still, it’s never exactly fun. 

I guess what I’m trying to say is – look before you leap.  Don’t let it stop you from taking the leap, if that’s what you really want to do – but never jump just because someone else tells you you’ll regret it if you don’t.

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