Later—when you’re in bed and able to think—the guilt won’t be quite as heavy. Why? Because you had a productive day. You got stuff done.
The human default is dissatisfaction. That’s how we get things done. Action plants the seeds of payoff.
Stamp out regrets early with a little self-awareness
I’ve gotten to the point where I can recognize the feeling I get before the mental karate begins. It feels like a dip before a wave crashes into me.
Sometimes, I’ll catch myself before and say “OK Sean—we aren’t doing this right now.”
Starting today, try to notice your thoughts as a 3rd party observer. Be aware of your moods in the simplest terms: positive and negative.
When we’re down—tired, hungry, cranky—we are prone to reliving regrets. An awareness of this fact will allow you to intercept the pity parade that’s going to stomp you out.
This is all part of cognitive behavioral therapy. We’re trying to rewire our minds away from a pattern it gets locked into. I don’t deal with regret anymore. I’ve mostly beaten it. Negativity is still a problem. But that never goes away. It’s simply a matter of managing. For example, I meditate and maintain a positivity journal each day.
Remember: Confront the regret early and again ask the question from point one (“What value does this reliving this serve me?”)
Instead of living with regret, draw broader context
We sit in air-conditioned homes, with access to food, medicine, love, freedom. We have our health, our family.
And here we are—still hung up on taking the wrong job, picking the wrong major, having said something stupid five years ago.
There are people in this world who are living out the ends of their lives. Their health is failing them. They are watching as the sand is running out—while we sit around wallowing in things we can’t control.
Your bad could always be way worse. Nearly every mistake you’ve made could have had greater repercussions.
In your darkest moments, take a moment to appreciate just how good you have it. What would a beggar think of the life you live? Gratitude shuts doors that are best left closed. It reveals an incredible life that is already in your hands.
“I cried because I had no shoes until I met a man who had no feet”
— Helen Keller
We are the luckiest humans who have ever lived.
We are all better than the worst things we’ve ever done. It’s high time we started acting like it.