No Regrets

You can have a life with no regrets. One way is to be born into a stable, loving, moderately affluent family in a safe neighborhood with good schools; always be completely honest but tactful; whenever you are wronged, forgive instantly and completely; be courageous; take no responsibility for outcomes outside your control; take every opportunity to improve yourself, develop your talents, and help others; and never do anything for the sake of love or by impulse. Also, of course, it would require considerable luck.

If you are fortunate to be born into near-perfect circumstances you will have no regrets about your childhood. While others struggle beneath the weight of negative memory you will run unburdened toward your goals. Your loving and wise parents will have helped you build unassailable self esteem, and their example of mutual respect will shape all your relationships with its positive model. Free from fear in your neighborhood, you will have grown up free to think of things other than your safety and the safety of those you love. The good education afforded you by superior neighborhood public schools along with the diversity of the student body served thereby will give you a balanced and tolerant outlook as well as superb preparation for an institution of higher learning.

Because you are always completely honest, you will never have to regret telling a lie, but because you are always tactful, you will never have to regret telling someone a truth they were not ready to hear. Since you forgive instantly you will never have to regret the time you wasted holding a grudge. Because you courageously seized every opportunity to improve your skills and develop your talents, you will not regret opportunities you missed having missed none, and because you courageously fought for justice and tried in every way to help others yet took no unwarranted responsibility for outcomes you could not control, you do not have to regret that you failed to stand up for your fellow humans or that any negative outcome was your fault.

If you never act out of emotion you will never have to regret an emotion-driven, impulsive lapse of judgment. Accepting that love requires no action, you act out of obligation and a sense of fairness and willingness to help others. Love, for you, therefore, is free of the usually attendant encumbrances and you will never regret being in love. Once again your lack of impulsiveness will save you from regret as you do not allow your love to persuade you to become inadvisably involved.

Although I mention it last, luck, fate, or the kind auspices of one's Hairy Thunderer, pagan Goddess or Cosmic Muffin, however you choose to regard the favorable actions or inactions of a largely theoretical Higher Power, play a pivotal role in having no regrets through absence of regrettable circumstances. Life is a gauntlet we run, with things poised to go wrong on every side. Your parents might be one of the fifty percent of couples who divorce. Your sibling might have a disability that through no fault of theirs siphons off most of the parental attention that might have otherwise gone toward building your self esteem. The bottom might drop out of your neighborhood public school budget, bleeding dry the resources that might have prepared you for success. Your lack of self esteem might make you prey to aggressive peers in school, leading you to negatively regard people You might forgive a person who should have been punished, who then goes on to commit a terrible act that you might have otherwise prevented, or you might help a person, but that help might accidentally bring them to harm. You might develop a talent such as playing a musical instrument, yet in the pursuit of developing that talent, on a bus on the way to a music festival you might be involved in a traffic accident that leaves you irreparably injured.

Say you fall in love but do not pursue that love because your impeccable logic tells you it is not a good idea to do so. Yet love is a willful and independent thing, and it might fail to be shut off like a faucet when you turn away. Even though you know it was for the best, your continuing unsatisfied love may bring lasting regret.

There is another way to have no regrets. Regret is not nearly as powerful an emotion as love. One can turn away from regret and forget it. Yes, you really can. I know, because it is what I do. It takes strength, but it is like a muscle. The more you do it, the easier it gets. It seems as if we instinctively hold onto a negative experience for which we are to blame, blaming ourselves repeatedly in a kind of automatic self-punishment. Yet if you think about what you are doing, you can see how much of a waste of time this is.

They say time is a great healer and it is really true. Memory tends to weed out the hurtful and retain the joyful. To avoid regret, simply cut to the chase. Imagine how you will feel in a few years and tell yourself to feel that way now. Why wait? I know if you are experiencing regret now, perhaps even deeply regretting something fresh and raw and new, it may be difficult for you to assimilate this idea. Nevertheless I assure you that it is possible to get past regret and go on with a more joyful existence.

You will understand by now that I am no longer talking about never having regrets. I am talking about living a mostly regret-free life. To accomplish this, one must adopt certain attitudes:

Love yourself. You could not live without you. Be pleased with who you are and the attributes that you have.

Forgive yourself. Do not harbor grudges against yourself. Everyone makes mistakes. Too many people fail to forgive themselves for the same shortcomings they forgive in others. What makes you so special?

What's past is past. Accept the fact that you cannot change the past. Woulda-coulda-shoulda is irrelevant. The past is only relevant for the lessons you can learn. Do not suffer over and over needlessly for mistakes you made or actions or opportunities you would have, should have, or could have taken. Learn from your mistakes and then, basically, forget about them. Only the lessons remain relevant.

It's not all about you. Many times bad things happen that are just not your fault. Maybe you have a car accident with perhaps disastrous results that reshape your entire way of life. You were driving perfectly, but a drunk driver ploughed into your car. Naturally humans look for reasons, and all too often we come up with the idea that any bad thing that happens to us is somehow our fault. To blame ourselves for occurrences beyond our control is just not right, and more importantly, it's destructive.

All love is good. Do not regret love you gave or love you got. Perhaps it did not turn out like you plan, but that's okay. That period of time that you loved or were loved is precious and not to be regretted, but cherished. Sometimes we fall in love with people who are not interested in us, and ya, that hurts. Sometime we fall in love with people we don't even know. Love is unpredictable. So you'll be sad for a little while - but you're sad because you're alive and in love! - a special time. Enjoy even the sadness of impossible love is a kind of joy. Savor it and move on with no regrets.

Life is too short to spend too much time in regret. Learn to push aside regret while retaining life's lessons, and go forward in joy.

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Comments 37 comments

fortunerep profile image

fortunerep 7 years ago from North Carolina

I wish i would have read this like, 20 years ago! Great hub


Tom Rubenoff profile image

Tom Rubenoff 7 years ago from United States Author

Me, too! (ok, maybe 35 years ago)

Gin Delloway profile image

Gin Delloway 7 years ago

nice hub!! I like it!!

goldentoad profile image

goldentoad 7 years ago from Free and running....

I try to live without regret, but one always wonders, but I think that's how we go forward, by putting it in perspective.

Tom Rubenoff profile image

Tom Rubenoff 7 years ago from United States Author

I think it's impossible to totally eliminate, but wise to minimize, mon frier.

MissJamieD profile image

MissJamieD 7 years ago from Minnes-O-ta

Tom, magnificent!!! Did you write this just for me? You're so sweet...only kidding...but I could swear you did. I lived about 32 out of 33 years in regret, guilt, and shame. Most things beyond my control, some-not so much. Within the last year my life has changed almost as if a miracle has occurred. Spiritually and emotionally I'm a brand new woman. I've made my own choices, not allowing anyone else to get into my head. I feel good about myself and my choices, in the past I hated myself. Guilt has shoved me into the dark hole of depression more times than I care to count. Just as you said, we all make mistakes, we learn from them and move on.

As far as the love thing goes, I'm very optimistic about that emotion these days. Besides the obvious love of my children, I haven't felt real love in 13 years!! I now believe that someone WILL love me someday. Until then, I worry about keeping myself healthy inside and out, and keeping my children happy and content and nurtured.

Sorry to ramble. You're a wise man, thank you for sharing your wisdom with those of us who have been stripped of support and confidence.

feeweewv profile image

feeweewv 7 years ago from Between A Dream And Reality

I think if we didn't have anything to regret we would regret it... LOL

really liked the part about forgiving yourself... way to go Tom, another great hub

Tom Rubenoff profile image

Tom Rubenoff 7 years ago from United States Author

MissJamie, Thanks for sharing your story.  It is good news, good to read.  I wish you the best.

If we didn't have anything to regret, FeeWee, we would have nothing to cherish, either!

Frieda Babbley profile image

Frieda Babbley 7 years ago from Saint Louis, MO

I love the faucet idea. I can't say as I have any regrets. I haven't had them for a super long time. I think I read this article years ago before you even wrote it, how freaky is that. So I say great thinking, as per usual. Fantastic hub. Great layout. Think you're remarkable and I have no regrets about that at all.

Tom Rubenoff profile image

Tom Rubenoff 7 years ago from United States Author

Thank you so much for the high praise. I'll shut up now before I say something I'll regret later LOL

MissJamieD profile image

MissJamieD 7 years ago from Minnes-O-ta

I appreciate your kind words:)

fishskinfreak2008 profile image

fishskinfreak2008 7 years ago from Fremont CA

A lot of tips that I could use here. Great article. Thumbs up

Tom Rubenoff profile image

Tom Rubenoff 7 years ago from United States Author

Thank you, MissJamie and Fishskin.

sheenarobins profile image

sheenarobins 7 years ago from Cebu, Philippines

Bravo! Bravo! I like it very much Tom! Love the article! Excelent.

Feline Prophet profile image

Feline Prophet 7 years ago from India

Such sound advice, Tom. Living a life without regrets seems like such a utopian situation, but maybe we can take baby steps towards it.

G-Ma Johnson profile image

G-Ma Johnson 7 years ago from NW in the land of the Free

Yes we learn from all things...regrets may be one of them... I have my own regrets and they come from the experiences I had to go through...I totally agree with your 5 last statements...but we are all so different and go through such different things..sometimes it takes aging to realize what regrets really are..:O) Hugs

Tom Rubenoff profile image

Tom Rubenoff 7 years ago from United States Author

Exactly, Feline. 'No Regrets" is a goal, but rarely a true state of being. If one truly has no regrets, I have to wonder if the person actually did anything in their lives.

Hi G-Ma! My only point is that life is too short to spend too much time in regret. The lessons one learns from regrettable instances in one's life - those should be kept and cherished.

cindyvine profile image

cindyvine 7 years ago from Cape Town

No time for regrets, reflect on all that happens to see what you can take out and learn from to prepare you for the rest of your travels down the road of life.

Tom Rubenoff profile image

Tom Rubenoff 7 years ago from United States Author

That's right. Travel light. Take with you what you can use, leave the rest.

cindyvine profile image

cindyvine 7 years ago from Cape Town

lol easier said than done, but that's the way!

Tom Rubenoff profile image

Tom Rubenoff 7 years ago from United States Author

A journey, not a destination. :0)

cindyvine profile image

cindyvine 7 years ago from Cape Town

an adventure not a disaster or mishap

Cris A profile image

Cris A 7 years ago from Manila, Philippines

I've learned a long time ago to take responsibility for what I say or do. So regrets, even if there may be alot, I have learned to deal with. For after all, at the end of the day, you learn from them. The key I think is to not repeat what you have regretted doing before. Everyday is a new day, I don't get too hard on myself. Thanks for sharing this very insightful hub :D

Tom Rubenoff profile image

Tom Rubenoff 7 years ago from United States Author

That's right, Cindy. Attitude can make all the difference.

That's the ticket, Cris. I found that regrets actually kept me from moving forward until I learned to transform them into memories. If one spends too much time kicking themselves, walking can become a problem.

Cris A profile image

Cris A 7 years ago from Manila, Philippines

Well I say it depends on where you kick yourself! LOL

Tom Rubenoff profile image

Tom Rubenoff 7 years ago from United States Author

True enough, my friend!

cindyvine profile image

cindyvine 7 years ago from Cape Town

oooo Cris, so forceful! I love it!

blondepoet profile image

blondepoet 7 years ago from australia

Love your new avatar ohhhh you are such a man..........

K.D. Clement profile image

K.D. Clement 7 years ago from USA

Clever how you composed this piece and how you are taking a look at our blame culture: "if only my parents had...then..." Vain regret is vain, only joy can carry us forward.

Tom Rubenoff profile image

Tom Rubenoff 7 years ago from United States Author

Ha ha, Blondepoet, mucho machismo, ha! I am on the floor, literally, now.

Thank you, KD, for adding that insightful observation!

Pest profile image

Pest 7 years ago from A Couch, Lake Odessa, MI

Does your damn brain ever shut off??? I envy your ability to pump out the Hubs; quality crap too! You missed one avenue to no regrets. Have very, very low expectations of yourself and life. Best to have no expectations. No disappointments and no regrets.

Tom Rubenoff profile image

Tom Rubenoff 7 years ago from United States Author

My brain is an effin' curse.

It's definitely true about expectations. Since I hit that five-0 mark and the bobsled ride to hell has picked up speed I am a lot easier about things that used to bother me, say, twenty years ago when I had a future!

mdawson17 7 years ago

This was something I needed to read a long time ago! I wished half of the individuals I work with on a daily basis would read this and implement it in their way of life! This hub was very insightful and wonderfully put! It is one of those hubs that makes you sit back in your mind and think for awhile!!!

Good Job!!


Tom Rubenoff profile image

Tom Rubenoff 7 years ago from United States Author

To my surprise and delight, several commenters have said the same! It is extremely good to hear that one's acquired 'wisdom' is valid and even valuable to some people. Thanks for taking the time to let me know!

GmaGoldie profile image

GmaGoldie 6 years ago from Madison, Wisconsin

All love is good. We forget the chapters of our lives prepare us for the next. I hate closing a chapter but the next can be inspiring. I am fortunate - no regrets.

My childhood was rough - raised by my Grandparents. My cousins hated me. Through counseling I learned it was my Grandfather who "caused" the hatred. Parents should not have favorites. All too often we only think of ourselves but the other person is angry because they are hurt.

Life every moment, every inch is a miracle. Thank God every day and pray for understanding of others.

Wisdom is a great and glorious thing. Knowing that we don't know everything is truly enlightening.

Tom Rubenoff profile image

Tom Rubenoff 6 years ago from United States Author

Thank you, GmaGoldie, for adding the story of your inspiring life experience to this article. :)

sunchild28 profile image

sunchild28 5 years ago from Nigeria

Life is very beautiful if we understand how it works.Good hint.

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