Everyone regrets some point in their life, whether it happens over a missed opportunity or making terrible mistakes with long-term consequences.
Most people want to rewind the tape and start over, but unfortunately, life’s reset button doesn’t work. How do you live a life without regrets? You have a number of things you can do, but the first becomes about adopting a positive mindset. Instead of looking at failure as a source of harm, see it as mistakes to learn from and turn into something better.
#1: Avoid debt and live simply
Piled up debts bulldoze your peace of mind. Even owing a few extra dollars plays on repeat in the back of your mind. When you live more simply, you experience fewer debts. You escape the rat race of competing with your neighbours. Why go in debt to impress people you hardly know? Having a smaller home means smaller bills and fewer debts. Do you want to have to constantly look over your shoulder for bill collectors?
#2: Embrace the lessons from the Japanese art of Kintsugi
Kintsugi is the Japanese art of fixing broken pottery. Many times, you hear people say, “Can’t we go back to the way things used to be?” Unfortunately, no—you can repress trauma, but you can’t erase it.
The art of Kintsugi became famous for transforming broken objects into items more beautiful than their original state. Like the broken cup in Kintsugi, humans will have regrets, but that doesn’t mean you have to throw your whole life away. Embrace your brokenness. Let it become a part of your history that made you even more beautiful. Ernest Hemingway once said, “The world breaks everyone, and afterwards many are strong in the broken places.”
#3: Do you have regrets of love?
One study found an interesting difference between men and women. Women, for example, have a harder time disengaging their attention from past relationships. The study learned 44 percent of women surveyed had regrets of romance. Meanwhile, only 19 percent of men felt regretful in the realm of romance. This finding could be because of the way that men have a tendency to find new partners more quickly, and those not in a relationship, understandably, have more regrets. What does that suggest? It shows women tend to place more value in their relationships. If you have regrets of love, one of the keys is to stop seeing that ex-boyfriend as “The One,” and instead look for someone who will love you for you.
#4: Take value from regret
If you can’t change the regret, let it go. Ruminating on the past, long-term, leads to depression and damages self-esteem. Instead, forgive yourself and take wisdom from the lessons of the mistake.
According to Neal Roese, a researcher at the Kellogg School of Management in Northwestern University, younger people tended to rate regret as more positive than people of an older age. Regrets often have informational value, such as:
- Avoid poor behaviour from past mistakes in the future
- Gain valuable insights
- Create stronger social harmony
- Approach future opportunities with less passivity
Take life from the angle of a journey on the sea. At times, the ship must brave terrible storms and crashing waves, but you will come through it stronger at the end. Regret happens when we blame ourselves for poor outcomes.
To slip past the trap of regret, we must first analyse our behaviour and understand its consequences. That way we can avoid it next time. Even if you live with regret now, treat it like you’re learning to live without regrets. The key to beating regret comes from within. No one else can hand you the key to your cage.