I have a few. I know I shouldn’t regret these things because at the time this was exactly what I wanted to do.  Silly how life works that way.

  • I stopped playing the flute when I went to college and I don’t play a musical instrument to this day.
  • I didn’t learn to speak a different language than English.
  • I didn’t study abroad when I was in college.
  • I didn’t go on a trip with my Mom alone even after she became ill with the Big C.
  • I stayed at jobs I no longer enjoyed for too long a period of time before making a switch.
  • I held myself back when I should have asked for more responsibility at work.
  • I allowed my father to have a major surgery when the odds were not in his favor.
  • I worried and dieted too much even when I was the skinniest I had ever been.
  • I didn’t go to Law School but instead went to work immediately after graduating college. (Not sure it is regret but then I will never know what direction my career may have taken if I had pursued my initial dream).
  • I tried to juggle too much when I was younger and I didn’t ask for help enough.
  • I didn’t start blogging until my girls, RM and I are older. I wish I had captured more of our experiences together in writing and earlier as I am afraid I have forgotten many great moments.

From some quick googling, the six biggest regrets fell into the following domains, in descending order: education, career, romance, parenting, self-improvement, and leisure. (If you’re curious, the next six were finance, family, health, friends, spirituality, and community.) It’s a bit surprising that education was the number one regret, but the authors argue this point: “Opportunity breeds regret. Feelings of dissatisfaction and disappointment are strongest where the chances for corrective reaction are clearest.”

But regret can be a good thing, yes?  When researchers asked people to score the upside of many different emotions, regret actually beat out pride. Both regret and disappointment scored much more favorably than anger, guilt, or sadness, surpassing even pride, a positive emotion— showing that individuals do see a value in regret.  Do you have a big regret?


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