Reading time: 5 minutes
Who doesn’t want to be able to live a life with fewer regrets?
I know I do.
And let’s face it those pangs of regret hurt, right? It’s a pretty rotten feeling.
We can regret what we wish we’d done, but didn’t.
We can regret things we could have said, but didn’t.
We can regret forgetting to include things we knew were important to our wellbeing, but we couldn’t find the time to make them happen.
There’s a whole bunch of regrets, so many that we could probably turn them into a refrigerator list!
And according to many of those interviewed by Karl Pillemer of Cornell University for his book 30 Lessons for Living: Tried and True Advice from the Wisest Americans we would do well to:
Carefully assess compatibility before choosing a companion for life.
Say yes to more opportunities that come our way.
So it seems that the things that we regret the most are more likely to be the things we didn’t do than the things we did.
And one thing I’ve learned from those who’ve been around a lot longer than I have – Just do it!
If it isn’t going to kill you, or get you hurt, or thrown out of your home consider doing the thing.
Try connecting to your deeper inner you, summon your courage, and step up and step out so at the end of the day you can truly say, I lived life with fewer regrets than I might have done.
Here’s 5 things to add to your regret reduction list.
Up your courage quotient
It’s not always easy to say yes to that opportunity or take a risk way outside your comfort zone. What if you trip up, what if it’s a big mistake?
Both things are possible, but one thing is certain you will grow simply because you accepted the challenge and you will stagnate if you stay where you are.
We celebrate the brave because as Nelson Mandela once said “I learned that courage wasn’t the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave one is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers it.”
If you can summon the courage, you have the power to reshape your life here and now and live with few if any regrets.
Play it straight
Truth be told dishonesty is more trouble than it’s worth.
It turns out, as we all know, that lying is a real pain in the you know what.
Even stretching the truth or at least exaggerating it has a way of getting out of control.
Soon these seemingly small things take on a life of their own and, before you know it, you find yourself constantly covering your tracks.
It’s flipping exhausting.
And then there’s karma. Not the kind we think of as occurring in the next life, but real, here, down to earth karma.
You know the kind.
The ‘what goes around comes around’ kind. And it can be kind of nasty.
Where to start with letting go?
We all have stuff that no longer serves us yet we carry it around day after day, year after year. It’s like being an undercover agent – hanging on to secrets – and it’s inherently depressing.
And much of the advice we get isn’t that helpful either.
Simply telling yourself to “just let stuff go” just doesn’t cut it. We need real answers, not folksy cliches that never worked anyway. And we need to know why…well I usually do. It’s my curiosity factor at work.
So let’s roll up our sleeves and get started.
How about starting with disappointments?
There’s all kinds of things in life that disappoint us.
Life isn’t perfect, people aren’t perfect and we’re not perfect.
But honestly, just because life or things in life didn’t turn out the way you hoped they would, doesn’t mean that they haven’t turned out in a way that brought a blessing.
You just aren’t seeing it right now.
And letting go of a disappointment is truly a path to a better, happier life for us all, all the time.
“The slightest thing happens to you, and you give away your happiness. You were having a great day until someone cut you off on your way to work. It got you really upset and you stayed that way the rest of the day. Why? Dare to ask yourself that question. What good came from letting it ruin your day? There was no benefit. If somebody cuts you off, let go and stay open. If you really want to, you can.”
Remember to have fun
As adults it’s far too easy to lose our sense of fun.
Something serious happens in life that we have to manage. And then something else, and something else. And before you know it, we’re stuck in serious mode.
I’m inclined that way, but because I have an awesome partner in life who makes me laugh a lot, I get to have more balance in life. And yes, I do say to myself “Wow I’m so lucky.”
And I know saying, “Just do fun stuff” is incredibly unhelpful advice to anyone who doesn’t have a laughter maker in their life.
But you can try laughing more. Watch a funny movie, be silly with someone you trust, even via zoom! Try laughing at yourself. Just give your laughter gene a kick-start and away you go.
Just remember that fun isn’t necessarily about things from outside yourself. You can make the fun happen. It’s up to you to decide to enjoy life more.
Having fun increases your level of ‘feel good’ neurotransmitters in your brain leaving you feeling more empowered, inspired, motivated, more creative and more energetic and less likely to focus on regrets.
Contraryreality thinking is one surefire way to live life with fewer regrets
Underneath the fancy words, it’s a pretty simple thing to do to help live life with fewer regrets.
Contraryreality thinking is the doorway through which you modify future experiences by focusing on a revision of the past.
“Both past and present continue to exist only because they are sustained by “Imagining” on some level or other; and a radical transformation of life is always possible by man revising the undesirable part of it….To revise the past is to reconstruct it with new content. Man should daily relive the day as he wished he had lived it, revising the scenes to make them conform to his ideals.”
You really regret something that happened. You feel awful/miserable/sorry/sad…take your pick or choose a feeling for yourself.
Now how to operate contraryreality thinking from your point of power? And how will this help you to live this life with fewer regrets?
Let’s start with the second question.
The past doesn’t stay in the past, inasmuch as it’s carried forward into your future through your memories and feelings.
If you continue with the same emotions they continue to have an impact on your thoughts which then influence your actions which create your results.
Basically the same old creates the new same old! Remember the two saddest words in the world are “If only.”
First question: how to operate contraryreality?
Begin by contrasting what happened that led to regret and formulate an idea of what you would today have preferred happened.
This helps remove the hold that regret has on you.
Couple this with what it would feel like were your ideal experience your actual reality and hold your attention on the idea and feelings that accompany this new reality.
Living from and operating in this CounterReality thinking doesn’t mean the original event didn’t occur, but you are using the power of your now imagination to dilute chemical reactions, records and reactions from the past.
The energies of regrets are being repealed and reversed, creating corresponding changes in your outer world of experience.
To sum up how you can live life with fewer regrets:
Up your courage quotient – it takes a great deal of bravery to stand up to regrets, but summon your courage and do it anyway.
Play it straight – the real things haven’t changed. Honesty still is the best policy and I don’t know about you, but I don’t want the ‘what goes around comes around’ kind of karma to come knocking on my door.
Letting go – as hard as it can be to do, is necessary. To keep revisiting past wrongs or mistakes is to continue to keep them circulating in your world. Ask yourself why am I letting this ruin my day and aim to focus on something happier.
Remember to have fun – it’s always a good thing to increases your level of ‘feel good’ neurotransmitters in your brain. Who wouldn’t want to feel more empowered and motivated?
Practice contraryreality thinking – this one really matters for being able to live life with fewer regrets. It’s also the gateway to a happier, more fulfilling, abundant future.
Encourage one another.