Or to put it another way; a life without trying much of anything new.
Just to clarify; I’m not saying it’s a bad thing to be content with your lot in life, and not wanting to try new things. In fact, I almost envy those people actually.
But if you accept this as the definition;
1. feel sad, repentant, or disappointed over (something that one has done or failed to do).
…then it’s fairly clear – to me anyway – that if you don’t have any regrets, then you have either not done much, or you have no remorse for the bad things you did do. And we have ALL done something bad to someone at some point.
So the cliched advice to ‘live your life without regrets’ is frankly impossible if your existence is even remotely eventful. No-one is perfect, no-one gets everything they have ever wanted, and not every failure in life can be tacked up to a mere ‘disappointment’.
Not only have we all done things we wish we hadn’t (even if takes years to realise it), we have also likely had many instances of wishing we HAD done something but now it’s too late. If neither of these are true for you, what the Hell HAVE you been doing with your time? Living a perfect life? Lucky you, but for the other 99.9999…% of the population we are left dealing with consequences.
But here’s the rub; I’m not only glad I have regrets, but I actually look forward to collecting more, because it means I’ve put myself out there and I have been in positions to make decisions I can regret. I have lived a relatively unspectacular life and have hundreds of regrets, all of which were experiences I would not trade for anything.
I am what I am now because of my mistakes and my successes, and am therefore defined not only by all of the good I’ve done, but by those regrets. Basically they make me human, they make me real.
For example; I’m at this moment happily married (my wife might not be), have a job that is ridiculously cool, loving family / friends, and enough money. But all of this was built on the foundations of countless train-wreck relationships, disastrous career moves, and a great deal of pain. My own, and the pain I’ve caused others.
To have no regrets now, or in the future, suggests that I have everything I want (I don’t), that I’m not sorry for some of the things I’ve done (I am), and that I will make no more mistakes for which I WILL be sorry down the road (I undoubtedly will). It means that I’m moving forward, I’m exercising my ‘…right to life, liberty and security of person.’ and that I will always accept responsibility for my mistakes.
But I’m proud to say that I have NO regrets based on unfulfilled wishes, mine are all based on things I didn’t do, did do, or on goals I have failed to reach [yet]. There is no room for fantasy or ‘if-onlys’ in a life of accountability and one well lived.
On the balance, I have a GREAT life, and I already know what my next regret is going to be; tomorrow’s hangover! 🙂