Lately I have been coming in contact with more and more people who seem to have a common philosophy on life – the general theme is that they have “no regrets” in life about anything. It often seems to come across with a bit of pomp and arrogance that says even though they have not lived a “perfect” life or that they have made some mistakes, none of it matters as long as they see it as an “experience”. They also follow it up with abundant clarity that no one better even suggest that they think any differently.
Another common characteristic I have found in many with this philosophy, is that they are typically in the younger “under 30” (which is quickly becoming the new “under 40”) crowd. Perhaps they just have not yet had enough life experience to realize that it is ok and actually even helpful to regret something you did or didn’t do in life, even if it, in the end, worked out or caused you to grow or gave you an unexpected blessing. Or perhaps it has nothing to do with age, wisdom or experience.
Many of these “no regreters” rely on and relish in quotes like these from authors and celebrities who have made more than there fair share of detrimental mistakes.
“Never regret. If it’s good, it’s wonderful. If it’s bad, it’s experience.”
“I have no regrets in my life. I think that everything happens to you for a reason. The hard times that you go through build character, making you a much stronger person.”
“I never regret anything. Because every little detail of your life is what made you into who you are in the end.”
Now don’t get me wrong, I can appreciate seeing life’s struggles, problems and even mistakes as working out for good and even helping you to grow, mature and become a better person. I can also understand not wallowing in your past mistakes. I can even embrace a “no regrets” philosophy if it has its roots in taking worthwhile risks and living life outside of the norm or when looking to the future and saying – “I want to live a life of no regret”.
But really…no regrets about the past?? ever??
I certainly have regrets – some of which I will share here –
- I regret the relationship I had with a boy for three years during high school… for a myriad of reasons.
- I regret that I didn’t apply myself to learning more while I was in college. I wasted my time and my parents money by not being more diligent
- I regret that I did not live more frugally and be wiser with my money.
- I regret that I went back to work after the birth of my first child. I cannot get that time back no matter what.
- I deeply regret that I did not do something more pro active to help a dear former student who ended up taking her life.
- I regret allowing myself to gain weight after each child was born. Losing 1o lbs would have been much easier than losing 50lbs.
- I regret losing control and screaming at my kids.
- I regret things that I have said flippantly that have hurt others.
- I regret the times I have not walked in integrity – by embellishing reality or omitting details or using words to mask the complete truth
Those are just a few of regrets I have in my life and even though yes, each of them has helped mold and make me into the person I am today – it is actually because I have regretted them that they have impacted me, impacted those around me and made a positive difference in who I am today. If I had not regretted them – then why would I need to change or grow? Why not just keep on making the same mistakes or even greater ones and chalking it up to – simple life experience – because good or bad it will be part of who I become?
The regret over things done or not done, mistakes made, sins committed should be what changes us and makes us into a better person!
Besides that, there simply are things in life everyone should regret –
- like hurting other people through your words or actions,
- like stealing, cheating or lieing,
- like being responsible for the injury or death of another life,
- like neglecting, abusing or abandoning your children,
- like being unfaithful to your marriage vows,
- or how about not making time for your loved ones (unfortunatly this regret often comes after they are taken from you)
– to name just a few things that one should have regret about.
Isn’t having a life philosophy of “no regrets” really just a mask for saying that there is nothing you do that is right or wrong? No absolute truth? You have no personal responsibility for your actions? It is all just about how you decide to see life? You can do anything and the consequences will all work out in the end?
I think a better life philosophy would be – redeeming my regrets!
That we should all take a long hard look at our regrets in life and look for ways to redeem those things. Perhaps we should redeem our regrets by –
- helping others avoid doing the same thing by being transparent and honest about the true damage we have caused through or action or inaction.
- or we could go back and fix things through apologies, restitution’s and repairs (although unfortunately some things just can’t be fixed).
- why not use the pain of past regrets to catapult us into a present course of action that we will be pleased and proud of and that will give us a future of satisfaction and fulfillment of a life well lived.
Redeeming your regrets….now there is a life philosophy I can get behind!