“Forget regret, or life is yours to miss.” ~ Jonathan Larson
What if I had done this or not done that!
Quite often when people reach the sunset phase of life, or, when they are passing through difficult times, they tend to look back and evaluate the entire gamut of life they have spent. It is then that they feel the pangs of sorrow, guilt, regret and remorse over their acts of omissions and commissions. Even in normal situations, the sensitive and conscientious people often take a stock of their deeds, no-deeds and misdeeds.
A historic regret
Cardinal Wolsey faithfully served King Henry VII, the father of Queen Elizabeth I, for all his life, but was charged with treason and sentenced to imprisonment in the Tower of London in the last years of his life. He was probably so shocked for choosing a man over God as his master that he died on the way to London.
Regretting his lifelong loyalty to the king, he said on the deathbed: “If I had served God as diligently as I have done the King, he would not have given me over in my grey hairs.”
How to Let Go of Regrets and Live a Happy Life
Here are 20 ways to be your real self and live your life fully without feeling any guilt or regret:
It is true that you should not listen to others and follow your heart. But it also enjoins upon you to use some discretion and stop it from going wild. For example, you have a lovely partner, good kids, and a happy family. Why should you, then think of seeking pleasures outside your relationship?
2. Accept life
Sometimes life takes its own course regardless of how hard you try to mold it according to your desire. Ruminating over such ‘tantrums’ of lie and faulting yourself can only increase the sense of pain and anguish.
3. Accept yourself
Accept and love yourself as you are with all your strengths and infirmities. It, however, does not mean you should not try to improve upon your weaknesses or overcome them. But some weaknesses are only very human. They define your humanness. Accept them without harboring any sense of guilt.
“You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection.” ~ Buddha
4. Keep moving
Quite often you make a wrong choice despite utmost diligence and suffer due to it. It would be no use mulling and regret over what you should/should not have done. If you focus on moving ahead, you will be left with no time to think of the past mistakes or regret them.
5. Live in the present
Regrets generally crop up when you ponder over the past. There is nothing wrong in going down the memory lane to revisit the good old days. Past may also be remembered to learn from it. But brooding constantly over your past mistakes and feeling guilty all the time may tell adversely on your general well-being.
“You must live in the present, launch yourself on every wave, find your eternity in each moment. Fools stand on their island of opportunities and look toward another land. There is no other land; there is no other life but this.” ~ Henry David Thoreau
6. Do your best and leave the rest in the hands of God or destiny
We can only put in our best efforts. Results are not always in our hands. What can you do if the best medical care could not save your loved one?
7. Your God has also to listen to the prayers of your adversaries
Derive satisfaction from the fact that you played your innings to the best of your ability. Remember, your competitors may too have played equally well and God has to listen to their genuine prayers as well.
There is a lot to be grateful about in your life despite some unpleasant situations. The problem with most of us is that when we, for example, fall ill, we forget how long we have been sickness free in the past.
If you start counting your blessings you will be surprised how many of them you have to be happy and grateful about.
“When I’m worried and I can’t sleep I count my blessings instead of sheep.” ~ Irving Berlin
9. Obsession with regrets may adversely affect your emotional and physical health
According to a study, fixation over regrets or blaming yourself for every unpleasant situation may result in avoidable stress. The negative feelings generated out of this exercise may adversely affect the hormonal balance and immune system.
10. Don’t be careless about your security
Sometimes small mistakes cost hugely. Not carrying a flashlight in the dark or ignoring to wear the seat belt while driving may cause a lot to regret.
11. Remember you are only a human being
Every human being is liable to err sometime or the other despite best attention to the minutest of details. Regretting cannot reverse the situation.
Charity begins at home. If you learn to forgive yourself, it would become easier for you to forgive those who you think have let you down.
“The truth is, unless you let go, unless you forgive yourself, unless you forgive the situation, unless you realize that the situation is over, you cannot move forward.” ~ Steve Maraboli
13. Once you know what is right for you and does not interfere with anyone else, go ahead and do it even if it provokes negative opinion from others. You will live a free and fearless life.
If you are truly convinced that whatever you want to do is right, do not worry about ifs and buts involved with it. This will prevent you from feeling guilty if your scheme of things fails to fructify.
“The saddest summary of life contains three descriptions: could have, might have, and should have.” –Anonymous
15. There is always time to make up for the regrettable mistakes of the past
Every day dawns with new opportunities that you can grab to make up for the past mistakes. Apart from today, there is always tomorrow or the next day. So pay attention to the present or the future opportunities rather than dwelling upon the past mistakes.
16. Don’t let others decide whether to make you happy or sad
You have to learn to be the master of your actions and moods. Don’t be dependent upon others for your happiness. Understand that most people derive malicious pleasure from the discomfiture of others.
17. Balance between personal choices and responsibilities
You have responsibilities towards your family or the organization you serve. But remember that you will not be able to discharge your responsibilities fully even if you spend every moment of your life until you die. So, find some moments to do what pleases you most. You owe these moments to yourself as well.
18. Take into consideration the theory of karma
Theory of karma means that you have to square up the account of your actions performed in this or the past life. If you sow the wind, you reap the whirlwind. If someone has hurt your feelings for no known reason, quite possibly you too may have inflicted some pain upon someone in the same manner.
The staple theme of the sermons delivered by the pundits at Hindu temples, especially during memorial services, is to remind the audience that they should perform the right karma in the remaining life lest they have to repent when the ultimate moment comes.
“How people treat you is their karma; how you react is yours.” ~ Wayne Dyer
19. Speak what you want to speak so long as you do not hurt anyone
Do not be afraid of what people might think or say, approve or disapprove when you wish to express yourself. If you feel strongly about some issue, open up; otherwise the pent-up words and feelings may start boiling up within you and hurt you.
If you love someone, say it now. You may not get the same opportunity next time and then you will keep regretting your silence.
“Words have the power to both destroy and heal. When words are both true and kind, they can change our world.” ~ Buddha
Have you ever been overtaken by a sudden dust storm that sullies your newly purchased costly suit of clothes all over? Could you have prevented its occurrence to save your brand new dress? The best you can do is to dust off the grime. Transpose this occurrence to other events and situations in your life over which you have no control.
“Letting go doesn’t mean that you don’t care about someone anymore. It’s just realizing that the only person you really have control over is yourself.” ~ Deborah Reber
So, don’t worry and whine. Life is like that.
What if tomorrow was the last day of your life. Would you have any regrets regarding the things you did or did not do? I really want to know what are your thoughts on this. You can share your insights by joining the conversation in the comment section below