No regrets has become a mantra for many. There are t-shirts, emojis, the ever popular tattoos, and many, many songs that reference living a life of no regrets. But is living a life of no regrets the healthiest way to go? Should it be part of your 100 Year Lifestyle?
The definition of a regret is something that makes you feel sad, repentant, or disappointed over something that has happened or been done, especially a missed opportunity. This means that you can regret past actions, as well as past inactions.
The Survey Says…
First, let’s look at how pervasive an issue regret really is. Daniel Pink, author of The Power of Regret: How Looking Backward Moves Us Forward, created the World Regret Survey. The largest survey on the topic, in 2020 it asked more than 15,000 people in 105 countries, “How often do you look back on your life and wish you had done things differently?” (Note: click on the link above and you can still participate in the survey, however, the question has been changed.)
Apparently, Frank Sinatra wasn’t alone when he crooned, “Regrets, I’ve had a few…” 82% of survey respondents reported regret being at least an occasional part of their life. A still significant 21% of respondents said they felt regret “all the time.” The folks who said they never felt regret only accounted for 1% of the survey takers – or roughly 150 people. Wow.
So there must be some upside to regrets, unless the majority of us just prefer to “feel sad, repentant, or disappointed” over events in our lives. Actually, there is an upside to having regrets. The key is to focus on the upside, then move on. The upside includes (but isn’t limited to):
- Learning from our mistakes. If you did or said something that didn’t make you happy in the long-term, use it as a learning tool. That feeling of regret can happen at any time and usually, in and of itself, indicates a degree of growth. We see what we did then through our eyes today and we either recognize a problem or a disconnect with our real values. Now we can go about dealing with things, using the past as a tool to inform and guide our present and future actions.
- Identifying our weaknesses. If you’re in that 21% who feel regret all the time, maybe that’s because you keep repeating the same mistakes. Perhaps these aren’t isolated mistakes, but rather weaknesses that need to be examined and addressed. Start by accepting the fact that you, like everyone else, has flaws. Then seek out any support or guidance you need to in whatever areas necessary.
- Improving our ability to accept responsibility. Some things in life are outside of our control. Some things aren’t. Your regrets might be the result of not accepting enough – or accepting too much – responsibility. It might be a good time to take a look at how you think about and handle responsibility.
The People Involved
It’s important that you remember not to be so hard on yourself. Life happens. As psychologist Barry Schwartz, author of The Paradox Choice, pointed out, regrets might just be a part of modern life. According to Schwartz, choice leads to greater satisfaction in life, until it doesn’t. As the number of our options expands, people become more concerned about making “the right choice” and can experience more regret afterwards. So give yourself a break.
Second, if there are others involved, regret can be the impetus you need to go back and apologize or make amends.
Size Doesn’t Matter
Whether relatively minor, like wishing you hadn’t said yes to an upcoming event, or life-altering like wishing you’d gone to graduate school or not gotten married so young, if you have any type of regret it should be examined and dealt with.
If left alone to fester, regret can become a daily distraction or worse. It can affect your health. Everything from your sleep, to your mental health, to your immune system is affected by carrying around the mental burden of regret.
No Health Regrets
While the World Regret Survey didn’t go into what people’s regrets were about, it is likely that a number of the respondents regretted not taking better care of themselves. No one ever regrets being healthy.
Don’t set yourself up to regret not taking care of your spine and nervous system. Make the right choice today to live your 100 Year Lifestyle, at 100% for 100 percent or more. There’s a 100 Year Lifestyle provider near you who would love to help you on your journey.