It’s easy to dwell on past mistakes — what we could have or should have done. But, those experiences shape who we are. The trick is to use them to grow. With that in mind, here are a few tips to stop regretting the things you can’t change and to focus instead on how to live now.
10 Choices to Help You Overcome Regret in Life
1. Own your weirdness.
Embrace what makes you different, and use it to your advantage. You are the only you in the whole world. In terms of supply and demand, you’re a hot commodity. Treat yourself as such!
2. Relinquish self-consciousness.
It’s impossible to control other people’s opinions of you. You could spend your whole life trying to make a good impression and you’d still fail eventually. Stop wasting time trying to please people whose opinions matter less than your own. Make the choices that feel right to you, and your self-confidence will grow.
3. Follow the three-second rule.
Not that three-second rule. Any time you’re tempted to respond out of anger or pain, take three seconds to calm down and think about how you’ll feel if you hurt someone else. It’s never worth it, and it’ll save you a lot of future regret.
4. Don’t spend time with people you don’t like.
It sounds obvious. But, how often do you attend parties or functions because you should? Time is our most precious resource, and not to be wasted on activities or people we don’t love. At the end of their lives, people most often regret not having spent more time with their loved ones. Prioritize them now. You’ll always be glad you did.
5. Love your work.
We spend more hours at work than anywhere else. If it drains you, bores you, or makes you unhappy, it’s the wrong job. If you’re not sure what you love to do, take some time for self-reflection. If you already are, now is the time to start taking steps toward that dream. What’s holding you back?
6. Honor your mistakes.
Mistakes are lessons. Failing is not something to beat yourself up over. It’s something to celebrate. It means you tried. Learn your lesson, forgive yourself, and move on.
7. Stop seeking praise.
Doing anything with the expectation of glory almost inevitably leads to disappointment and bitterness. The way you invest your time should be determined by your pleasure and satisfaction in the activity itself. Then, positive opinions become a bonus and negative ones become irrelevant.
8. Follow through.
Making empty promises and assurances inevitably hurts and disappoints the people you love. Keep your word, whenever possible. On the rare occasions something unavoidable comes up, explain the situation and try to offer an alternative. This makes people feel prioritized, even when you have to bail.
9. Treat your body well. It’s the only one you get.
You know how on airplanes they tell you to put your own oxygen mask on before helping anyone else? Apply that concept to your health in general. You’re a much better, more productive person when you take care of yourself.
10. Practice gratitude.
No matter how bad things seem at an given moment, there is always something to be grateful for. Did you have clean drinking water today? Food in your refrigerator?
Consciously considering the things you’re grateful for can make the negative seem smaller and less overwhelming. Time spent wishing for what you don’t have is wasted. Time spent appreciating the present pays dividends.