The short and bitter line of regret
In my mind, for many years, I have tried to live without regretting things. Big or small. I’m not suggesting that when I was younger I regretted everything I did, or didn’t do, but there have been one too many moments where I made a small decision that I later regretted. Regretting small things was normal for me. Regretting running to the train, missing a concert, spending time with someone I didn’t really like. Really minor things that you could get over in a matter of minutes, and just look ahead.
I have never labelled myself an optimist or a pessimist. I just know that I had dark days filled with depression and days I simply didn’t want to exist, but I also had days that were ecstatic and filled with happiness and fond memories. But I found that regret was linked to being pessimistic, and it was stopping me from being happy, from staying positive, from being a potential optimist.
Regret is horrible. The word itself sounds horrible. After regretting even the smallest things, I began to feel that regret twisting my feelings together, then trying to pull them away without removing the twist. Like a taut rope in a tug-of-war.
You can always tell yourself “it’s not a big deal”, “there will be another time”, “it could not have been helped”, “I’ve done what I can do now”. But telling yourself those phrases over and over is not the same as believing them. Yeah, there are some things I have felt bad about – it’s hard to have zero regrets – but the worst thing to do is dwell on them. And when I think about it, in that moment of time, I made a decision because it was the best thing to do at the time. Maybe it wasn’t the right thing, but it was the best thing.
The human mind is tricky. We change our minds. It’s easy to change your mind after a couple of years, maybe because an idea doesn’t seem attractive anymore. We can change our minds so quickly in a day, after an hour, within a minute. When I think about regret, I think about decisions. I think about a difference. But decisions and differences happen every day. You can regret a hundred things in a day based on a hundred little decisions. What you ate. Where you parked your car. What you wore to work. How much you surfed the internet instead of working.
I’ve just tried not to dwell on things that make me feel regretful. Sometimes, there is just nothing I can change except that feeling of regret. I try to regret nothing. Nothing at all. It doesn’t mean I live carelessly or make bad decisions. I just know that really, I did live and learn. And really, I wouldn’t be the person I am without all those things.
There is not much that feeling bad and regretting things will actually do. In my LZRGUN Manifesto, I wrote that optimism is a road that you create. Optimism is not the destination. It is the journey. Your path is optimism.
I know what I want my path to be. Sometimes, as narrow as that path may get, I still want to avoid the feelings that can get in the way.