But only if you want to be the kind of person who lives a life without regrets – and who doesn’t want to be that person? I mean, really, who on their deathbed is thinking, I wish I had more regrets in my life… – no one! We all want to be at peace at the end, and part of that peace comes from having no regrets. Too many people think the opposite when they’re old, “my biggest regret is…” as if it’s a given that there will be regrets, with too many to list them all, and a big one popping up to loom large when it’s too late to do anything about it.
Wouldn’t it be nice if we could have a do-over in life? Or maybe get lots of do-overs, chances to change history. Oops, that mistake was regrettable; where’s that reset button to push right about now? No button, loser, you’re screwed and need to live with your behavior, like the adult that you are.
Isn’t that the very definition of maturity? – to buck up and take your licks, own your behavior, claim responsibility when you would rather go home crying to your mommy? “I take full responsibility” – but what does that mean exactly? What if whatever happened cannot be made whole; you can’t fix it – where does taking responsibility leave you, except with a whole lot of empty words that don’t amount to squat.
So the answer is to avoid getting yourself into regrettable situations in the first place; situations that you can control. And since we can only control our own behavior, these would be situations that will end up as personally regrettable, with a great impact on life. And that aforementioned control is over ourselves; control over our self-communication, our thoughts.
What is the most important question you can ask yourself, to lead a life with few regrets? It is: “Why not?” Not “why? Why should I do (whatever)?” but “Why not do (whatever)?” Why not push out of your comfort zone, even just a little bit, to explore the opportunities? Why not think bigger, set your sights higher, accomplish more? Why not try and see where it gets you? Why not consider the possibilities, instead of relying on the familiar and easy default option of not trying? Why not take the bull by the horns and make peace with you-know-who? Why not take control of your life instead of letting life take control of you (which is what asking “Why?” does).
“I’ll tell you why not, because I might fail, that’s why” and you feel that your ego can’t take another beating down. Life is so hard and you just can’t fight it anymore and risk facing another failure.
“I’ll tell you why not, because things are just fine the way they are” and why risk changing things? If it’s not broken, don’t fix it. It’s easier to ignore the potential of “why not?” instead of glimpsing a future that involves taking unnecessary chances.
“I’ll tell you why not, because I might succeed and then if I do I know deep down I can’t be a victim anymore”, which is the only identity I know and can relate to. It’s tough to face our deep-rooted demons, and harder still to tame them. Future regret is perhaps a small price to pay for less misery today.
So who are you? Who do you want to be? If you communicate “Why?” to yourself, you send the mental message of complacency, status quo, run of the mill, average Joe. Which is fine. Someone, actually lots of someones, have to be average for there to be an average. The problem is that most of us think we’re way above average. Not the average Joe/Jane at all.
By communicating “Why not?” to ourselves, we send the mental message of aspiration, inspiration, and change away from run of the mill. Be that person who thinks “why not?” and you will live a life with fewer regrets.
Next time the topic is: those 3 little words, so hard for some to say: I Love You – why we may have trouble emotionally connecting with others
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