There are numerous songs telling us to “let it go”. Search for “let it go” and, once you waft through all the Frozen-related sites, you’ll find many artists who’ve sung about letting something go. Check out one of my all-time favorite songs (which I also referred to in this post), one I listen to anytime I feel a stuck-in-the-past emotion (regret and vengeance, for example).
I could write numerous posts about living in the present and not fixating on the past (or the future), but we hear these things repeatedly. What I don’t hear quite as often (and maybe I’m just in the wrong circles), is questioning regret.
“I wish I had gone to x university.”
“If I’d taken that job, I’d have so much more money.”
“I’ve always regretted not traveling when I was younger.”
These thoughts aren’t worthy of our time. There’s only one question that matters here:
Are you happy with who you are, at this point in your life?
And I don’t mean that you like the way you look, or that you have lots of friends, a good job, or anything material. I speak of something deeper, something you feel within, being conscious that you are completely content with yourself and the direction you are taking.
The way I see it, there are two options:
- You are happy with yourself. In this case, you shouldn’t want to change anything in your past because you are the sum of all your experience, all your choices – good and bad. If your past changed, you wouldn’t be who you are.
- You aren’t happy with who you are right now. If this is the case, wouldn’t your energy be better focused on changing that? Thinking about what-ifs accomplishes absolutely nothing to help you become a better person. Reflection certainly allows you to grow and I encourage reflection with all my heart. But fixating on things you did “wrong” in the past doesn’t change anything in the present or future.
Don’t think about what might have been. Be happy with who you are now OR focus on becoming happy with who you are now. Neither of those two options allows for regret.
As Zac Brown Band says, “focus on the things you can change, forget the ones you can’t.” (Okay, I’m officially done referencing this song).
Do you have regret? What are you doing/going to do to eliminate it (or minimize it, for a start) and focus on the present (and maybe the future)?