I am unlearning a lifetime of habitually believing that to regret is to sentence myself to a lifetime of always looking back, never moving on.
Dan Pink’s The Power of Regret: How Looking Backward Moves Us Forward is the impetus for my unlearning.
Now, I could be cheeky and try to turn the tables on his teaching by saying, “I regret reading this book! It’s making me change my mind about something I thought was one of those unalterable life truths.
Fact is, I don’t regret it at all, which in this case, is a good thing because I can’t unread what’s already read.
Regret makes us human. Regret makes us better, writes Pink.
I’d also add, it makes our journey richer – as long as we enlist our regrets to improve our future.
Like, when you say something to your best friend that is insensitive or snarky. Regret rides in fast (at least for most of us it does) compelling us to apologize and make amends.
Pink calls those ‘regrets of action’. The premise being, I have a chance to recalibrate the present by owning and making amends for what I’ve done to harm/hurt another.
The more challenging regrets, he expostulates, are ones of inaction. The roads not taken. The deeds not done.
Those are harder to course correct, and in more instances than not, according to Pink, seldom are.
Those are the ones we carry with us to the grave.
Which gives credence to the oft-quoted Mark Twain aphorism (which apparently he never said)