New Year, new you, right? You don’t have to have a resolution or wait for the beginning of a year to take a little time for self-reflection. I’ve got a few stats for you that might help get that ball rolling. Living well website Happify notes that 90 percent of people say they have a major regret about something in their lives. The site has even found that regret is the second most frequently mentioned emotion after love. Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Management cites most major regret revolves around love, family, education, career and finance.
Psychologists believe much of this regret occurs because we don’t take chances, follow our hearts, or step outside the box of what we consider normal or socially acceptable. Yes, it’s our inherent need to belong that causes most inaction – and inaction is the source of most regret. Psychologists also assert that while we may feel guilty over the pleasures we do indulge in or the decisions we agreed to that we should not have, these feelings tend to be short-lived and fade away relatively quickly. On the other hand, they argue FOMO (fear of missing out) is actually real. These feelings of missing an experience or opportunity can arise gradually, they say, and the disappointment left in their tracks can be much harder to overcome. In essence, we’ll do better in the long run if we beg forgiveness from ourselves, rather than ask permission from society.
Now, the good news. Happify says we have something called a “psychological immune system” that further helps us combat the bad experiences that may occur due to our decisions. This ability allows us to rationalize and reframe our perspective on a chance taken that didn’t quite work out the way we hoped. Another positive note: regret is considered the most beneficial of the 12 negative emotions, which include fear, sadness, anger, etc. Regret can help us make sense of past experiences, avoid future mistakes, and course correct when and where appropriate.
So take action now. Let go of the past and the things we cannot change. Evaluate your current situation, see where you’re fulfilled, where you’re not and what you can do to add more to Column A from Column B. Finally, commit to living true to you, not to what others want or what you think society says is right. This takes courage, the ability to be honest with one’s self and a dedicated amount of time that will further what fulfills you, regardless of whether that pursuit involves love, money, career, family, extreme sports or anything in between. Remember, you owe you. No one else.