Regret. Seldom is there a more persistent pain than our “if only” memories. It might not be a blazing agony, but this tiny monster claws at the same spot for years. Soon enough, regret sucks the joy from our lives.
Jeepers, that was depressing. Now, here’s the good news. There’s still plenty of things that you can do to prevent regret.
10 Things You Will Regret Not Doing
The following suggestions can also help anyone to deal with any baggage they might already be carrying. Pick a flower, make a cup of tea – and then read this list. Your life is about to get better! Promise.
1. Treat the Passage of Time as a Gift
Here’s the thing. You can fight it, deny it or fear it – but that clock is going to keep on ticking. No matter what we feel or do, time goes by. Growing older and watching things change can be scary. But it’s important to shift the way we look at this. You know, regretting the things one might miss out on because time’s running out. This “future regret” comes with a price – you don’t see the wonderful things you already have in your life right now.
The passage of time doesn’t have to be a fatalistic countdown. It can be a gentle reminder to value what brings happiness in your daily life. More importantly, the things and people that won’t always be there. A few examples are youth, a beloved pet, and our families. Children grow up and fortunes change.
This is a hard one. Most of us look at our age in a negative way. But the outcome is worth the effort. Be kind to yourself as you start looking at the passage of time as a reminder to appreciate what you have now, instead of fearing the future.
The moment you start doing this, the grip of regret weakens. At the same time, joy has more space to blossom. You’ll suddenly start finding happy moments in spades – just by having a conversation with a loved one or even watching your child explore mud!
2. Shake Hands With Discomfort
The Stone Age mind doesn’t like discomfort. Nope. The Stone Age mind wants shelter, safety, snacks, and no conflict. Oh, dear. Modern times slap that part of our brain with so many unwanted signals, it’s no wonder that people are so stressed out. We worry over family and bills, work situations, our weight, and mortgages. Discomfort in different grades, but they’re all unpleasant.
Here’s the thing. Feeling that small twinge of dissatisfaction or fear will always be there. It’s human nature. But such feelings can stop people from chasing their dreams and that’s why it’s so important to put a little distance between yourself and discomfort.
When it comes to doing something important, like taking the next step with one of your goals, chances are that discomfort will loom nearby like a toxic friend. That’s exactly what it is. Our Stone Age brain wants to protect us from risks. It cannot tell the difference between a T-rex chasing you and feeling nervous over starting your own business.
Remind yourself to shelf discomfort in situations where it’s not needed. Your mood will be more focused and positive, and the task at hand might not seem such a mountain.
3. Never Underestimate the Power of Patience
What does patience have to do with regret? Sometimes, a lot. A short fuse or impulsive decision can lead to moments we wish had never happened. Buying the wrong stocks, feeling tired from work and then snapping at one’s spouse or child. Impatience can ruin relationships, finances, and health.
Don’t worry, you don’t have to be a monk with a diploma in Zen. There’s a simple exercise that can save you a world of trouble. In the beginning it’s hard, especially in the heat of the moment. But chin up, the more you remember to do it, the more you’ll remember to do it.
Pause. That’s it. When a toddler smears fish-paste over the carpet, most parents are ready to explode. Pausing between a trigger (that fish-paste is not coming out…) and reacting (yelling so hard that people in Russia can hear you) is what prevents regrets. At that moment, you might realize that toddlers are not adults. They often do things they don’t realize are wrong. You might see the benefits of hiding the fish-paste in the future and not leaving it on the table. You might calmly discuss the no-no with them instead of angrily giving in to a punishment that makes you both feel bad when it’s over.
Pausing gives you the power to choose your best options during volatile moments.
4. Letting Go of Unhappy Memories
The past is a major source of regret. It’s filled with big mistakes, tragedies and the times when other people harmed you. Unhappy memories suck, plain and simple.
To boot, negative emotions are clingy creatures. But here’s the prickly truth – we also cling to them. As painful as these memories are, there’s a tendency to keep vigil over them as if our emotional energy can somehow change something and make it all better. Unfortunately, the past cannot be changed or erased. Pouring emotional energy into such desires only brings fatigue and depression.
That being said, when it comes to the past you can change two things. First, learn all you can from what has happened. This is to prevent it from happening again. Chalk it up as experience. Secondly, you are allowed to disconnect your feelings from a memory. A past event will always be there. The emotions don’t have to be.
5. Tweaking Your Life Plan
A life plan is just a document keeping all your dreams and goals in one place. It also shows the steps you have chosen to realize them.
Some people write their life plan in a journal. Others prefer something like Google Docs. Whether you go old school with paper or use an online file, do whatever feels right for you.
A weekly review is a good idea. Think about it. Seven days bring a heap of chores and challenges. There’s a good chance that they’ll derail the steps that you’ve scheduled for your dreams that week. A review can identify the bruised goals and readjust their steps. This tweaking keeps you on track to living your best life ever.
6. Staying Healthy And Fit
This tip is all over the internet and with good reason. Without your health, life becomes a lot harder. Good health includes eating well, staying hydrated and getting enough pillow time. Physical exercise is another must, but don’t forget the mind!
Mental health plays a big role in keeping the body in peak condition. That’s right, relaxation is no longer a treat. It’s a must (hey, who’s going to complain about curling up with a good novel or binge-watching movies?). Our favorite things are like islands in the storm, offering moments of rest and enjoyment. Without them, stress can boil over and fry the immune system. Hello, colds and flu.
The earlier you start to take care of your health, the better. Then again, starting at a later age is also better than never! Have fun with this one.
7. Avoiding Toxic People
Standing your ground is one thing. Trying to reason with online trolls and toxic friends is another. People who push your buttons – the most hurtful buttons – and then blame you for both the push and your reaction are not worth your time. Engaging with them is like being stuck on the hamster wheel from hell. The more you try to reason with them, the worse they behave.
There is a toxic person in every office, school, and organization. They ruin romantic relationships and friendships – often to the point of devastating their victims. If there’s serious trouble with such an individual, please get the help and support that you need. Indeed, while not always easy or safe, you’ll never regret banning toxic people from your life.
8. Balancing Work and Life
There’s nothing wrong with working hard. Jobs keep food on the table and provide for our families. But beware of the lure of overtime at the office or bringing your work home. That’s when an epic regret comes knocking.
Imagine looking back and thinking, “Where did my life go? How did the years pass so quickly?” Try as you might, you could find yourself struggling to recall the good times with clarity. The last decade could become something of a blur.
Here’s a scary thought. Anyone is replaceable in the workplace, but YOU have only one life. The lucky ones earn money with hobbies and jobs that they love. But the majority of people hate going to work every day.
If you cannot jump to a better ship, there’s no reason why you cannot balance work with fun things. Start small, then push back the unnecessary hours that you’re sacrificing at the office. The pay-off is beautiful. The more time you spend with soul-nourishing activities, the slower the years seem to go by – because they’re packed with meaning and enjoyment.
9. Having a Healthy Relationship With Money
Another biggie! Having a good relationship with money includes dealing with finances in a responsible manner (whether you have enough moolah or not) and also to reduce any financial pressure. You need a strategy to get out of debt, stay debt-free, put away some savings as well as other assets.
Needless to say, the more dismal one’s finances are, the longer it might take to form a healthy relationship with it. However, it’s something that can be corrected over time. There’s nothing a good dose of patience and commitment cannot fix. The alternative – a life burdened by financial need – isn’t something that anyone deserves.
10. Being Independent
Independence takes many forms. But you’ll never regret the effort to teach yourself the skills to manage on your own. Self-sufficiency makes life easier because you can get things done without having to wait for others or asking for help. That last one can be embarrassing if the person doesn’t really want to assist or uses it as a means to abuse power in a relationship.
Learning to be independent is natural and a never-ending process. As youngsters, we learn to dress ourselves and later on, learn how to drive a car. But independence is perhaps most valuable in adulthood. Having your own place, keeping up with technology and being able to do small (and big) things for yourself is personally one of the most empowering things that you can do for yourself.
Sometimes, we don’t have the necessities to become more self-sufficient. There might be no funds to study or move into your own apartment. Perhaps due to health issues, you must also rely on others.
However, being independent doesn’t mean never needing anyone else, or living alone. When families and friends work together to tackle a problem, it’s a wonderful bonding experience. Plus, teamwork makes difficult things easier to deal with. But independence is a great gift during the times when only you can do a certain task or you prefer to do things on your own.
Go On, Make Your Life Amazing
A great life doesn’t need exotic locations and fireworks. Sure, those things add pizzazz but you can have a happy and satisfying life without all the elite trappings. Indeed, sorting out the personal things – your finances, family, goals – bring a more lasting joy than going to the Bahamas for a week.
A big step is to see regret for what it is. A hungry time-eater and a waste of lives. Another is to remember that regret can be resolved. Even better, you can avoid it in the first place. This list is a great place to start. You are welcome to pick and choose the most useful suggestions and then apply them to your daily life. Most importantly, don’t forget to enjoy learning how to take back your time, passions and life from the Murky Pool of Regrets!
You might also want to look at these posts:
- 15 Bad Habits To Break This Year If You Want A Happy Life
- 10 Mental Health Habits to Adopt For A Great Year
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