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Survey Answers: Top Regrets In Life

Updated on March 25, 2020
alan tremblay profile image

Alan has a degree in science & research, with over 300 research projects conducted on topics that include Biology, Sociology, and Psychology

What are Regrets?

The "Merriam-Webster Dictionary", defines a regret as a "sorrow aroused by the circumstances beyond one's control or power to repair."

Regrets come from experiences that we have, or don't have, and the repercussions on our lives that they have created.

It would seem that everyone carries with them a regret or two, a certain experience they wish they could go back and alter. I thought it would be interesting to create a survey and ask the question, "What do you regret?".

If anything, we can take this information and use it as a guide to avoid certain pitfalls, or trends that create similar regrets throughout people lives.

What do you regret?

See results

What People Regret Most:

  1. "I regret that I did not find my confidence and self-believe much earlier in my life than I did, as it has meant I have missed out on so much."
  2. My greatest regret is doing stuff for people, and expecting them to do the same back.
  3. "Having given importance to some people who never value them"
  4. "Wasting lot of time doing nothing"
  5. "Having trusted people who used me like a tissue - they wanted me when they needed help. And then they threw me away , after their work was over".
  6. "Not keeping options open."
  7. "Not making sure my dog was safely inside, when there were fireworks outside."
  8. "The chances I didn't take."
  9. "That I didn't take the chance when all I had to do was say yes and instead I gave up."
  10. "I forgot the original me."
  11. "I regret not following all of the pieces of advice that so many people gave me when I was younger, most of which make sense now as I think back."
  12. "Never should have loved the person whom I still love, hopelessly."
  13. "I lost touch with almost all my friends."
  14. "Not having had the maturity, insight and tolerance that I now have when I was young"
  15. "Being a bully."
  17. " Not doing what I loved, but trying to love what I was forced into doing"
  18. "I regret forgetting how to be alone"
  19. "I did't pay attention to my mother's words"
  20. "That I was born."

Tell me what you regret!

If you have a regret in life that is different from what was listed, I would love to hear about it. Simply go to the comments section and post your regret! I will update this article frequently and add yours to the list!

Why do we regret things?

When an experience or event goes in a direction that is undesirable, it leaves us with thinking about all of the ways of how it could be different. Of how if I just did this, instead of that, my life would be so much better.

The problem with this "if only" thinking, is that it shifts your focus to the past, pulling you out of the present moment. Life is chaotic, and unpredictable with moments of beauty and despair. If we focus on the despair, then that will be the only thing that we see.

During undergrad, I recall an article about an experiment conducted on a snowboarder. His brain activity was monitored, and he was asked to visualize himself snowboarding down a mountain. The areas of the brain that lit up were recorded, and then compared to the results of his brain activity whilst actually snowboarding down a mountain. Unbelievably, the activity was the exact same, it was as if the brain didn't understand the difference between visualization and physically carrying out an act.

This directly relates to regrets, because as we discussed, focusing on the past, specifically the one event that led us not to be happy, will result in your brain re-living the experience. A cocktail of hormones that include cortisol will be released to deal with the event that your brain thinks is happening all over again!

Cortisol, if you are unfamiliar, is the "stress" hormone. The name implies that it is released during stressful experiences, as it does. Cortisol plays an important role in the fight or flight pathway. When we sense a threat, cortisol is released with other hormones to get you to act!

However, if their is no threat, then cortisol has been released for no reason, and can cause things like obesity, high blood pressure, and hair loss.

Hopefully now you can see why reliving the past is not so good for us!

Loved Ones
Wasting Time
Job Related
Not Doing Activity
Not Listening to Advice
Taking Action
Doing to much of Activity
Losing Friends

Top Regrets from Survey

Letting go of Regrets can Lead to Healthier Aging

A study published in the "Journal of Science" revealed that people who constantly regret, and by doing so experience distressing feelings more commonly, do not age well.

Instead, the hormones mentioned previously in this article, work to lower your immune system, which creates exposure sickness, and disease.

5 Tips to Help Let Things Go

Now that we talked about how bad regretting things can be for your body, and mind, lets introduce some ways to help let go of regrets. One of the most helpful things in my own opinion, is reading about other people\s regrets. If someone already took a path similar to yours, you can learn from their mistakes and avoid certain pitfalls that would otherwise end up a regret, as it has for them. Listen to the advice of your friends and family, take it all in, but carve your own path. This life is our own.

1) Make decisions with your heart. - From our survey, we can see, that when a person did not follow their dreams, they ended up regretting it. Weather they chose someone else's advice over their own, or simply lacked the self confidence, making decisions based on something other than your heart can lead to a regret.

2) Accept Life as it is - Sometimes, our situation is so complicated, that is seems almost impossible to change. This pitfall often leads people to reflect negatively on what they do not have. Accepting things for what they are can be your antidote.

3) Accept Yourself - Similar to #2, accept who you are and what you stand for. Accept what you look like, how you feel, and where you are in life. Somethings can change, but the idea of "you" will remain unchangeable. You are beautiful, and you need to realize that for yourself.

“You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection.” - The Buddha

4) Keep Moving - Just like in the movie "Finding Nemo", Use Dorey's "Just keep swimming" song as a guide in your life. When people stop, that when they often find their emotional baggage and begin re-living the past.

5) Live in the Present - By now you should be familiar with this idea. View every moment as if it is happening for the first time. Truly invest yourself into the present moment and you will find peace.

“You must live in the present, launch yourself on every wave, find your eternity in each moment. Fools stand on their island of opportunities and look toward another land. There is no other land; there is no other life but this.” - Henry David Thoreau

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