When we look at our past from the perspective of the knowledge we possess now, it might be tempting to regret doing or not doing something. Holding regrets, however, is not always appropriate, simply because the insight we have now didn't exist in the past. In fact, doing so is very unfair towards ourselves. Since you didn't have the knowledge and awareness that you possess now, where is the fairness in judging yourself from the place of knowledge that you couldn't reach before?
The nostalgia over 'If I only knew, I could do it differently...' can both, provide us with a valuable lesson for the future, or temporarily cloud our focus and screw our mood. In some cases, we might have had the knowledge and skills necessary to make the right decision, but for some peculiar reason we have chosen to do otherwise. The regret coming from such actions is usually the most bitter. 'How could I be so careless?'
Regrets come in various shapes and sizes, or are avoided all together if we choose to never look back. However, even if we do decide to never reflect on our past, it doesn't change the fact that we are shaped by our past experiences and deeds. In other words, whatever you are doing now, in this precise moment, shapes the person you will become tomorrow, the next month, or even in the next 5 years. So, even though we can dedicate all our efforts to give the best to the present moment and forget about our past, we can't deny the fact that what you have read 20 seconds ago influences what you understand now.
Based on all this, it is only natural for us to try and live with no regrets. It doesn't mean that we should aim to meet some unrealistic expectations or compulsively trying to achieve perfection. Rather, it is about respecting your future self and giving your best to the present moment. If you encounter each moment, each problem, each decision to your best current ability, and if you are compassionate enough to understand that all your past actions were based precisely on this principle on giving your best, there won't be much space for creating regrets – only honest evaluations and understanding that will provide you with invaluable lessons for the future.
Here are 10 tips that will help you to live with no regrets:
1. Always give your best
This might change accordingly to a day and situation. Sometimes you might have a bad day, fall ill, and your decisions might be a bit impaired. Sometimes you might get genuinely distracted by something more important. What matters is that you are compassionate enough to accept making mistakes, and focused sufficiently to perform to your current ability. It's not about achieving perfection, but about living each moment as if it was your last.
2. Show appreciation and let others know that they matter
One of the popular regrets that many people hold is never telling their loved ones how important they are. This also relates to those who never got a chance to confess their feelings to someone they've been attracted to. More often than not, it is more valuable and beneficial to express what is important to you than to avoid embarrassment.
3. Avoid apologizing when it's unnecessary
Never apologize for your honest self-expression, your decisions, your actions, your feelings, or opinions. Apologize only when you are responsible for someone's suffering.
4. Don't explain yourself
You don't have to explain every action and decision to everyone. Doing so might lead to misunderstandings and to false or unwelcome opinions. Use your judgement – only you are responsible for your life and only you decide with whom you want to share it. You don't need approval or disapproval of others to do whatever the hell you want.
5. Trust yourself
Base your decisions on what you truly want to do – not what the society wants you to do, not on what your family and friends would you want to, not on what will keep you in your comfort zone. Some of your decisions might be aligned with the collective, some of them not. Forcing yourself to please everyone will make you bitter and create a firm basis for the future regret.
6. Take life less seriously
Life is full of little and big absurdities. The more seriously you take your life, the more narrow your perception will become, and the more narrow your perception is, the more difficult it will be to notice anything outside of it.
Humour is the antidote to anxiety and despair.
It's easier to engage with life when you are less attached to everything. The stronger the attachment, the more prejudiced you will become against everything that you are not attached to and that doesn't fit your paradigm. That's how you might lose opportunities.
7. Learn to let go
Okay, someone crossed you up, so what? The unpleasant feelings such as anger or sadness will grow proportionally to the time you spend focusing on what made you feel in that particular way. Learn to let go of your feelings, situations, people, beliefs. Whatever doesn't serve you – let go. Also, consider the fact that people make mistakes. In the future, you probably won't be happy about losing a friend because you struggled to forgive them one mistake.
8. Stay curious and notice the mystery
Life is weird. Reflect on this statement.
9. Respect yourself and others
Stand up for yourself and respect that others do so as well. Each of us periodically go through some shit. Don't become another obstacle in people's way and avoid those who put unnecessary or valueless obstacles on your path.
Hurting others leaves a bitter taste for a long time.
10. Spend your time wisely
This one seems obvious, and yet, many of us might forget about it easily. “Time you enjoy wasting was not wasted” - it's not just about staying productive or making each moment valuable, but also about pure enjoyment, doing things that make us feel truly alive.