I don’t often think about my regrets. I don’t usually think I have them. However when I stop and do think about them I was able to come up with a list of ten.
This is not to say that I haven’t made more than 10 mistakes in my past. I have made thousands. If not millions of mistakes. I have made mistakes with my time. Mistakes with my money. Mistakes with relationships. Mistakes with girlfriends. Family. Friends. The list goes on.
Generally I feel that I have learned from these mistakes and have improved. That my life has gotten better because I have taken a look back at what I did wrong. And found out how to make it how to make it less wrong. It is not to say that I am perfect at all these things now. But I hope I have improved in all of them even if just small ways.
A simple Google search for the definition of regret says “feel sad, repentant, or disappointed over (something that has happened or been done, especially a loss or missed opportunity).” I would not say I feel sad about things on this list. I am however repentant about some of these things . As I am surely repentant of several other wrongdoings from my past.
1. Living In The Past Mentally
I have spent too much time in my past living in the past mentally. I have hashed over. Ruminated. Brooded. Stressed. Worried. And feared about the mistakes I have made. Instead of letting them go, I would keep thinking about them. Over and over again. Nowadays I try not to think about my past in general. I do recall the good things from time to time. The main point is I try not to focus on the past in the present moment. To stay connected to where I am right now at most all of the time.
2. Holding On To Old College Notes
The other day I was cleaning out my attic and throwing away some more stuff. We have done this a couple times before and are in the process of eliminating things from our lives. During this cleaning session I threw away a huge stack of notes I had from college. I thought I might use them in my career as a teacher. I never became a teacher. So I don’t need them. I sorta feel sad that I hadn’t thrown them away sooner. I had moved them from place to place. Carrying them around as if they would be useful. Also at some point I recognized that any resource material could nowadays be found online. To be honest there is no way I was actually going to go back and read through my notes. I hardly ever write notes down about anything anymore. This is because I never go back and read them. Sometimes I will take notes as part of a study aid. I heard once that if you have a pen in your hand while reading that you are five times more likely to remember it. Sounds reasonable enough and it’s not too hard to do. When I do want to learn something important I will sometimes take notes. Or at least keep a pen in my hand.
3. Not Traveling To Europe After Graduating College
This one I don’t regret so much because of what happened instead. What happened instead is I met Sarah got married. This is way better than going to Europe. However I had wanted to go to Europe after I graduated college. I am not sure if I ever was committed actually going or if I was just planning to in order to have something to look forward to. Actually I was reading an article recently about happiness and is it was saying about how taking a trip will make you happier but it also said if you just plan a trip it will help make you happy too. It was the same thing I had done just having something to look forward to. I have heard several times from various TED Talk speakers that we can experience the same emotions as people just by watching what they do with their facial expressions. I have also heard from different presentations or presenters about the psychology of things in certain areas of your brain that activate just by looking at pictures in the same manner as if you actually experienced the thing. Like looking at the picture of this ice cream.
They say your brain activates and has nearly the same experience as if you were actually eating it. Which is a cool way to save money on travel. Next time you want to travel do a Google image search where you want to go. If you are interested here are 10 places where I want to go.
4. Keeping Trash
Along with throwing stuff out. I have held onto other stuff that was completely unnecessary to hang on to. I held onto actual items of trash. I don’t mean stinky or gross things that you wouldn’t necessarily want to have hanging around. But simple innocuous things like extra pieces of paper. Paper that wasn’t exactly unusable but it might have had a few bent corners. I had plenty of other pieces of paper. But I held on to this piece. And this piece. And that one over there. Why was a saving all this paper? Was I going to use it? Was I afraid there was going to be a paper shortage? Did I not think I could just go buy more if I needed it? I don’t know. It had something to do with not wanting to be wasteful. Now I’m not advocating being wasteful. You know like Matthew McConaughey says it’s not about hugging trees. Without getting too deep into it, it probably has to do with psychological issues of growing up in a house where my mom didn’t throw away as much as she probably should have. She wasn’t an extreme hoarder as you see on TV shows. But she did keep a lot of stuff that she probably would do better without.
5. Being Critical Of Others For Doing The Same Things That I Do
This one I really am regretful about. I used to be a total jerk. More on that below. I would be critical about other people, mostly in my head, about things that they did that I would also do. I would spend my brain power picking apart peoples actions and pointing out their faults. This is a bunch of wasted mental effort. Especially since: A) I was never going to tell them to their face because I was a weeny; B) It just filled my head with negativity; and C) I did the same things as they did, but I didn’t change myself. So it was just plain rude.
6. Lying To Myself
I really regret this also. I try not to do it anymore. I would tell myself stories about things that I wanted to happen but I knew wound not happen. I would tell myself I was fine with things that I wasn’t fine with. I would convince myself of all sorts of things. The problem with lying to yourself is that you are never deceived. Lying to yourself is negative. It doesn’t help you be better. And it doesn’t really make any sense.
7. Making Excuses
Along with lying to myself, I used to make excuses all the time for things. Now I don’t make excuses. I try not to be too hard on myself though. I try to be gentle, to myself and others. When I am rude to my wife I apologize directly to her. I tell her I am sorry for being rude and that it is not ok. She is gracious enough to forgive me but I tell her the truth that me being rude is not ok. And then I work on getting better. I don’t have time for excuses anymore. I know I will keep making mistakes. But I will keep working on getting better. I need to face the truth when I do make mistakes. I don’t need to sugar coat it. I don’t need to gloss over it. And I don’t need to lie about it. I need to take ownership. Take responsibility. And accept what happened. Then find ways to improve it.
8. Being A Jerk
Like I mentioned briefly before I regret being a jerk. I used to tease people at school. I used to make fun of people. I used to make fun of lots of people. I used to take advantage of people in the sense that they thought that I was a good kid and so they assumed I was nice. I used to go around saying that “I never said I was nice”. But other people just thought I was nice. I thought that that was their mistake. A small example of how I was a jerk I was in high school. Freshman year I rode the bus to school. My friends and I sat in the very back. One of my other friends and I would always convince and talk a third guy into doing things that we came up with. That way he would be the one getting in trouble. We got him to tie a CD onto some fishing line and throw it out the bus window. Not a big deal but it did cause a little bit of a raucous. However one time we convinced this third guy to throw something at someone at the front of the bus. Now the person at the front of the bus was probably someone at the time I would consider to be a nerd. I don’t remember them exactly but I do know that when the bus arrived that day at school they had told the bus driver on us. Either once we are getting on the bus that afternoon or getting off the bus the next day, one of the assistant principals from our high school stopped us. He wanted to know which one of the three of us threw the object. We do not want to rat each other out and so collectively we all lost our bus riding privileges. We ended up walking to and from school for about a week.After that week we broke. We went and told on the guy who threw the thing. Then we got to ride the bus again. But it took a while longer in my life before I learned not to be a jerk anymore. I think mostly I was rude because I was angry. I used to be angry all the time but I am not anymore.
If you have not read this story go read it now because it is too long to go over again. Just know this that I regret doing it. It was not one of my finer moments. Nowadays I work at being honest, authentic, and transparent. I don’t want to be deceptive or do anything like that ever again.
10. Wasting So Much Of My Life
There is no simple story to wrap up what I mean by this one. I just feel that there has been several times in my life where I have been wasteful with my life. I have not been intentional with my time. I have not done things that are productive (not that you always have to be productive). I would just waste hours. I played computer games for several hours straight. I would watch TV for countless numbers of hours. I have binge watched Netflix. I am talking about being wasteful beyond just resting or relaxing. But indulgently being lazy and wasting time. One thing as I get older is I notice that time is something you can never get back. That how you spend it is important. Although the expression commonly heard is “time equals money” I think that is not true. You can always get more money, but you can never get more time.
If you think my stories may help someone else from wishing they could “Ctrl+Z”, please share.