How To Live A Life With No Regrets
It All Started With A Really Bad Day.
The day was not going well! I was feeling a little blue, I did not get the things accomplished that I wanted to, and to top it off, I was running late for my friend’s birthday celebration.
After a lengthy search for a parking spot, I “wogged” (walked/jogged) to the door of the restaurant, did a quick mirror check and I headed in to meet the gang.
Upon entering, my first sweep of the room produced no familiar faces. No worries, I casually sauntered around, peeking into alcoves… nothing. After a fruitless tour of the lounge I was left puzzled. Hmmmm.
I picked up the phone and called my friend…
“Hey I’m here, where are you?”
“We are in the main dining hall, big table you can’t miss us.”
“I looked everywhere… you are in Scottsdale right?”
Well there you go. To top off my day, I was on the wrong end of town, late, and 25 minutes from my destination (which was about 4 minutes from where I had started my journey.)
As I got into my car, tears of frustration were stinging my eyes.
Tired and just wanting to “get there already” I indulged in a moment of self-pity.
Driving down the freeway, feeling sorry for myself on this day that just did not seem to be going right, I was struck by an interesting thought.
A thought I had never had before…
“What If I Died Today?”
What if I were to die right now, on this day that was “not working?”
What If I died right now, in a moment when life did not feel really fun or fulfilling, when things were not going well and had not been going well all day?
If I died today…..would I have any regrets?
I paused on this and investigated.
To my amazement, as I looked back at my life, I realized that despite my less than awesome day, I did not have a single regret. Not one.
Oh sure, in my life I had made mistakes and I had said stupid things, and I had moments of embarrassment and goals not yet fulfilled, but truly not a single regret.
With this realization came a very happy, new thought.
So, if I had made it through 30 years with no regrets, if I could honestly die right now and say that I lived a good life, then, I reasoned, chances are, if I continue to take on life the way I have been, then I can live to 40 or 50 or 90 without regrets!
What an amazing feeling to know, that no matter what happens, I will end the journey saying that I lived a good life!
A feeling of peace washed over me and things have never been the same since.
The Anatomy Of Regret: Where Regret Comes From.
This brought me to ask the question…what was it that got me to 30 years old, free from regret?
While I certainly had more things to accomplish in life, I knew that, to that point, I had taken on life the very best I could.
I knew that the things I wanted in life, I was actively in pursuit of.
I knew that the things that were not working in the past, I had taken action to resolve.
I had created a good life, and more importantly, I was in action around creating the life I wanted.
Question: If you knew you had 1 day to live, could you honestly say you have lived this life to its fullest; that you followed your dreams and that you could die with no regrets?
Really look at it and give yourself an honest answer.
Are you laughing or crying? Either way it is good news because thankfully you are still alive, so the regrets you have today can be left behind.
I offer that the people who die with regrets are not the ones who pursued their dreams and fell short, but the ones who chose never to pursue them at all.
Life With No Regrets
Here is your step-by-step plan for regret-free living!
1) Make a list of regrets.
If you have em’ let’s see em’. Make a list of those things that show up as regrets in your life – both past regrets and regrets in the making (things you are not taking action on, or grudges you are currently holding.)
2) Clean up what you can.
If you have regrets from the past, check and see if there is anything you can clean up with a conversation or an apology. In the past week, I made two calls to people I feel I have wronged in the past – it takes courage but as my mom used to say “If you knew better you would do better” and now that I know better, I have the chance to clean things up and start fresh, sans-regrets!
3) Accept what cannot be changed.
Ok, I do not mean to turn this into an “Anonymous” meeting, but the whole “serenity prayer” is some great stuff.
If there are things in the past that you regret and that are totally out of your power to change, then let them go. So you never asked that cute girl to the senior prom, or you stumbled over your words during your 15 minutes of fame or you didn’t check to see if your skirt was tucked into your pantyhose before you left the bathroom… GET OVER IT!
If your regret feels bigger than your capacity to let go, then I invite you to seek religious council, therapy or talk to a coach.
The past is the past and as long as you are alive today, you still have the chance to make right any thwarted efforts or missed opportunities that may seem to have passed you by.
4) Take action.
Ask yourself the question, “If you were living life without regrets what action would you take?”
Another way to look at it is, “What action/inaction would leave me with regrets?”
When I ask myself these questions, I am clear that I would have regrets if I “wimped-out” on myself and my potential; if I hid out from my life and never followed the path I have been called to, or never followed it to its fullest. Then I would have regrets.
With this knowledge, I find that it makes it easier to charge the fort or weather the storm.
Choose in this moment to live your regret-free life and start taking action in that direction.
Choose Regret-free living
There are few things sadder to me than to see someone living with regret. It is one of the most destructive and useless states-of-being out there. This is not to say it is wrong, it just serves little purpose but to make a person hurt, keep them stuck and focused on the past.
My sincerest wish for you is that you do not become one of those people.
Claim your right to live regret-free!
Take action to be the person you have longed to be.
Tell your mom you’re sorry.
Kiss your spouse goodbye on the way out the door.
Follow your dreams!
And some distant day, when you are laying in bed, with your loved ones around you as you say your goodbyes, you will be able to pass peacefully, knowing that you lived a good life, with no regrets.
With Love (and no regrets)
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