Like anyone else, I have regrets in life.
I regret eating unhealthy food today. I regret buying a useless book at the airport yesterday. I regret not losing any weight since the beginning of fall despite making huge changes and effort. I regret living in a city with limited energy. I regret loving my job so much that I keep present wherever it is present. I regret not have spent a long time with my family. I regret not saving money while I have had it. I regret not being happy. And I regret many other things in life.
I was having a conversation with a good friend of mine and the more we talked, the more clear it became that regrets were inevitable. Especially when we needed to choose between different alternatives or take different routes.
But whether or not some regrets were inevitable because we had no control over them was debatable. Regrets were certainly context-dependent and some regrets were unnecessary. Realizing this was uplifting and frankly made my day; I do not need to beat myself over some regrets – I can rather accept there was no better alternative, I tried my best, it did not work out, and I can move on. Priceless 🙂
For example, I can regret buying that book and spending $25 on it now. But if I had not bought it, I could regret it, too, because I would probably be bored at the airport by doing nothing much. I chose between the two alternatives; buying and not buying. I resent my choice right now, but I could as well resent not having this choice. So feeling the regret does not serve me well; I tried to prevent boredom and did not become lucky with the book. That is all. There is no room for regret here. Let’s move on.
I regret eating unhealthy today. I do not know why I have not eaten better. Maybe I needed to shop. Maybe I did not want to cook and prepare food. Maybe I just said “okay, I will start it again tomorrow“. I made a choice and now I regret it. This regret is different than what I experienced with the book (above), though; I do not think I would regret eating healthy, for example… In other words, the other alternative, eating healthy, was an a lot better and perhaps the best alternative. This regret is well deserved, as I simply did not make a good decision. I hope that regret now can serve as a valuable teacher for me to make better choices next time…
I regret not being happy (I am not unhappy, either – I am in a neutral state between being happy and unhappy), as I know what happiness means and how great it feels. I did not make the choice of being unhappy or being not happy. In contrast, I always wanted to be happy. “Maybe you just do not know how to be happy“, one may say… (I hope noone will say this; happiness sometimes is not attainable by the way it works for others). Anyways, I regret not being happy, but I did not choose it. So why do I have regret?
I guess the answer lies in the fact that I still believe that I can be happy and I can work towards it. So far in 40 something years, I have not figure out what it is that can give me lasting happiness (except falling in love with someone great… then happiness was the natural state; I just remembered….). But there is hope. One day.
I also regret spending my time and years in a city that does not excite me. My alternative is to move somewhere else, but I did not make this decision yet. I regret living here, but cannot take the steps to change it.
Why is that?
Because I can understand that the alternative may not be so good either and I may regret it big time, too. For one, finding such a job that I have here is almost impossible. Even though I am not making a lot of money, my salary and job are stable. If I leave this job, I may never have such financial and job stability in my life, even though I get everything else that I long for for an exciting life… That is the scariest part of it.
The moment I wrote the above sentence, however, something blinked inside my mind. I remembered that using the word “never” was a way of generalizing things without much evidence. So, who knows? Maybe there are other jobs that can provide me with these stability somewhere else. Maybe I should go check for them, yes? 🙂
Writing is awesome; it helps clear things for me. But more than that I am grateful for having hope 🙂