Do you ever feel a sense of regret, that you’ve wasted too much time in life? That you wish you were younger and had some years back? Maybe that you would make different choices, take different paths in life, do things differently? It seems like it’s a rare few that don’t have this, at least to some degree, a rare few who can be fully content that every decision they made was OK. […]
And yet, it also seems to me like this feeling of regret can be very useful to us.
This is a very powerful feeling.
I think it’s never going to feel good.
It’s always going to be a very uncomfortable feeling, that sense of loss, the sense of lost time, time that we will never get back.
It is gone.
The past is gone.
And that sense of something that is out of our grasp, that there was a time when it was in our grasp, we didn’t make full use of it, or even if we did, it is gone now.
There’s the sense of the actual regret that we have for a lost past, and there’s the fear that in the future we will regret how we spent the present.
And that, I think, especially, can be a very powerful fuel for changing our lives.
And this is something that really helped me start to change.
I was happy with what I was doing.
I was happy wasting time, and just filling in time entertaining myself with escapism.
It’s great entertainment.
It was only that feeling that time is passing.
I’m not getting the fullness of life that I want.
As fun as it is to be entertained, it doesn’t feel like that is enough.
That is not what life can be and should be.
So I did this simple thought experiment that helped to change that perspective.
Just imagine yourself in old age, looking back on your life.
How do you want to feel? You don’t have to even go to full old age.
You can go to middle age.
You can go to even ten years in the future, maybe even less.
Just imagine yourself at some point in the future, looking back on everything that your life has been.
How do you want to feel? What kind of life do you want to be looking back on? It seems to me like the recipe for happiness and satisfaction in this state is to be able to look back on life and say that “I lived a full life.” Whereas the recipe for sadness and miserable old age would be to look back on my life and say what I could have been.
“I could have had a full life, but instead I wasted my time.
I turned down my chances to do bigger, better things.
I filled my time with things that were not particularly valuable, and now here I am.
I cannot get that time back.
It’s too late.” Now that is a truly miserable feeling. […]
Regret is a feeling of discomfort, and discomfort can be very useful to get us out of a routine that’s not working.
Sometimes expressed as lighting a fire under your sometimes expressed as lighting a fire in your belly, lighting a fire under your ass.
That is a strong way to picture this idea, that you are sitting comfortably, and you’re perfectly content to just sit, but then there’s a fire burning under your ass: now you have to move.
It is not comfortable.
There’s no way that feeling is going to be pleasant.
But it does make you move. […]
So I would be curious to hear your experience with a tool like this, using negative emotions, using discomfort, as a motivator, to feel that gut-wrenching, burning, uncomfortable feeling of “something’s wrong” and apply that to getting up out of comfort and moving into doing new things.
Of course it’s important not to let the feeling be so overwhelming that we simply kind of wallow in it and drown in this feeling of misery and regret.
Because no matter how bad the feeling is, there’s always that feeling that it could be getting worse in the future unless we do something about it.
So as much regret as you feel, let the fear of future regret be even stronger, so that even if you are 80 years old, you can still start to make changes and start to do new things, live your life in a new way, so that even if you cannot get back any of that time before, there’s still time ahead in which you can live a life that you don’t regret.
That I find to be a wonderful motivation.
Don’t avoid the burn.
Don’t paper over the burn.
Don’t just say “Everything’s OK.
You don’t need to feel that way.” Let yourself feel the burn.
Let it get you out of that comfortable armchair and start moving.
Let your mistakes, your regrets, your sadness, all negative mental states, all negative emotions, become fuel that you can burn in order to take you in a new direction towards a better life.
#regrets #nomoreregrets #motivationalfuel