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Life with No Regrets

Updated on July 13, 2011

Living a life with no regrets, isn't that what we all strive for? To enjoy life free from those aching pangs that come that come from misunderstandings and missed opportunities. Deep regret, (The kind that makes your stomach drop and your head hang for a beat) is more than wishing you had more money or less weight. It's life changing, and not for the positive.

Everyone makes mistakes and that's part of the learning process of life. But, regret is something more. It's not easy to live a life free of regrets, that's why we have so many cliches like, "live each day as if it were your last" and "Carpe Diem". But, if you set your priorities and and follow your heart, you just might be able to spare yourself some major heartache.

I certainly have made my fair share of errors, but I only have a few real regrets. If I had a couple of "do over" moments, I'd wish I'd been more loving when I had the chance, more attentive when I was needed and less easily manipulated. I won't make the same mistakes again and I will try and live my life so that I have no more regrets in the future by following these simple rules:

Love Fiercely

I guarantee you, that if you go through your life without telling and showing the people you love how much they mean to you, you will be sorry. Never hold back because of pride. Strive to make those you love, feel good about themselves by being secure in your love for them.

My dad was 45 when I was born. He'd already had two other children from a marriage that didn't work out. When his first wife was ready to marry again, she asked my father to give up custody of his children so that her new husband could adopt them, and he did. It was another time, in the 50's, and people had different ideas about marriage. I'm not making excuses for him. I've learned to reconcile his decision. But, it made an impact on me as well and so, I've tried to understand why; how he could do such a thing.

He tried to have a relationship with them afterward, but of course, it was never the same. They were teenagers when it happened and understandably hurt and angry. So, he let it go.

We once had a serious talk about it, just a year or two before he died. He admitted for the first time, that he thought he made the wrong choice. When I looked in his eyes, I knew he didn't just think he made a mistake, he knew it.

If he had even just once tracked them down and told them that he was wrong to give them up, that he never stopped loving them, they might have been able to forgive him. He maybe could have had a relationship with them. If they could have seen what I saw, they would know how much they meant to him. Maybe it wouldn't have changed anything because the hurt was too wide and sore, but at least they would have known that they were worth regretting. Which brings me to my next point.

Say You're Sorry

It's never too late to say you're sorry. If you really regret having done or said something, then the most important thing you can do is make the person you hurt feel better. If you really are sorry, you won't be apologizing to console yourself, but for the other person. That means, that even if they don't accept your apology, you will have opened the pathways of communication.

Even if you're not the one who was in the wrong an apology can save a valuable relationship. Think honestly about the good times and weigh them against your current strife with this person. If the good times come out heavier, than you know what you need to do. Remember, an apology isn't always an admission of fault. You could just reach out and say, "I'm sorry we're not talking anymore," or "I miss you".

You'll never need to wonder what could have been, had you only... The worst thing they can do is say, "no, I don't accept". That won't kill you. But, the pain of regret just might. And who knows? Maybe your apology was all they were waiting for.


On the other side of asking for forgiveness is forgiving. When you carry resentment and bitterness in your heart you aren't just hurting the person who caused it. You hurt yourself as well. Personally, I think that it's an evil little kernel in your soul that can cause all sorts of damage to your physical body, like serious illness. If you can learn to let go of your anger, you will be a much happier person.

It's Never Too Late

Don't ever make the mistake of thinking too much time has gone by. As long as you have breath in your lungs, it's not too late for anything. I'm 44 years old and am finally getting the degree in interior design that I've always wanted. I've always loved decorating but my step-mother was an interior designer and apart from the fact that we didn't get along when I was a teenager, if I had followed in her footsteps, it would have killed my mother. Now, I figure we're all grown up, (my mother included) and nobody has to take my choice personally.

If you want to do something, that's reason enough. You don't need to justify it to anyone else.

Don't Stay in a Relationship that Doesn't Make You Happy

You don't owe being miserable to someone. If they don't make you happy, chances are also very good that they are not happy themselves, which will make you're leaving better for everyone. You should be getting what you need (and giving as well). Of course, it's not a decision to be made lightly. Realistically, no relationship is perfect. The qualities that will ultimately make a relationship work are:

  • Loving support: The person that you're with should make you feel better about yourself not worse. That includes a belief in your abilities as a person.
  • Compromise: This is a big one! You can't always have things your way and neither can your partner. Learn to compromise and you will be much happier together.
  • Trust: My son and his friend were using the computer to make prank phone calls and had a "woman" call me and ask for my husband. When I asked what it was about, she said it was private. When I hung up with her, my son and his friend came rushing into the room to reassure me that they had made the call and I shouldn't be angry with my husband. It didn't even occur to me to go ask my husband about it because I trust him. I didn't know who the woman was, but I certainly didn't assume my husband was guilty of something. Granted, our trust has been built up over many years, but you know in your heart if you can trust someone or not. Listen to that.
  • Reliability: Your word should mean something. If you say you're going to do something, do it, and expect the same from your partner.
  • Fun: if you can't laugh with your partner then something is very wrong. Even in bad times, wouldn't you rather be with someone who can put a smile on your face?

For what it's worth, the above 5 ingredients are what make my marriage work. We've been together for 15 years and I still thank God I married him. That's not to say we haven't had our share of trouble and hard times. Sometimes I screw up and sometimes he does. But, we don't give up on each other because the basic elements of our relationship are worth preserving and my life is infinitely better with him than with out.

Keep Your Promises

You'll feel much better about yourself and won't have to feel guilty. Don't be glib with your word. Resolve not to make any promises you can't keep.

Conquer Your Fear of Failure

Set realistic goals for yourself and then make a plan to achieve them. You are capable of anything you set your mind to. Don't let fear defeat you before you've even tried. I always tell my son, what separates the winners from the losers is that the winners get up again after they fall down. And everybody falls down sometimes.

Believe in yourself or just ignore the doubt long enough to act as if you believe in yourself . Just like smiling when you feel sad helps to make you feel better (really, that's a fact). Believing in your abilities and ultimate success can also become self fulfilling prophecy.

It's human to make mistakes and it's our humanity that makes us regret them.  Perhaps though, what really makes us human is our ability to conquer our baser instincts and attempt to live a life based on our ideals and not on our impulses.

Article by Anne Alexander Sieder all rights reserved.


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    • edelhaus profile imageAUTHOR


      5 years ago from Munich, Germany

      Thank you - I hope you follow your dreams, too!

    • PaleoVeganista profile image


      5 years ago

      Thank you for the inspiration, edelhaus. I am so grateful to have found this hub. Of all the advice you offered, this line resonated the most with me:

      "If you want to do something, that's reason enough. You don't need to justify it to anyone else."

      Such a true statement. I am adding it to my list of no-nonsense motivational quotes.

      Thanks again, and congratulations on pursuing your goal of becoming an interior designer.

    • Rolly A Chabot profile image

      Rolly A Chabot 

      6 years ago from Alberta Canada

      Awesome advice and so well worth reading I have it bookmarked... well done...

      Hugs from Canada

    • Askme profile image


      6 years ago

      Wonderful advice. Brought tears to my eyes about your dad. Mine too gave up a daughter-it was the 50s. I've often wondered what it would be like to find my half sister. Could she be the missing link to so much of the family secrets I grew up with?

    • kenneth avery profile image

      Kenneth Avery 

      6 years ago from Hamilton, Alabama


      Dear edelhaus, may I comment on this hub? Thanks.

      I voted up and all the way because . . . .





      And I invite YOU to check out my meager hubs--if you needa good laugh. And become one of my followers. I would be honored. And I wish you a Merry Christmas to you and yours.

      Sincerely, Kenneth Avery, from Hamilton, a small northwest Alabama town that looks like Mayberry on the Andy Griffith Show. Peace to you.

    • ahorseback profile image


      7 years ago

      Edehaus, Sound advice from a knowing woman, Daughter and mom, Wife? There is so little time to waste in life with the many possible regrets available! Great advice , great hub , You should teach this to all somehow. Voted up....

    • michael ely profile image

      michael ely 

      7 years ago from Scotland

      Hi edelhaus, I am glad that i came across this Hub as i found it to be very informative as well as very inspirational.

      Thanks. Michael.

    • edelhaus profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Munich, Germany

      It's a challenge, isn't it - to try and rise above impulses and whims and live according to your principals.

    • LaurieDawn profile image


      7 years ago

      Thank you for your thought provoking hub. :) And sound advice. To live with no regrets. I have had a few in mine, just as the old song sings, but to live and try to always be at the best of one's ability, that is truly what life is about.

      Thank you and voted up.



    • edelhaus profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Munich, Germany

      I think that would be my second to last thought - the first being, I'm going to miss this life and the people in it! :-)

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Wonderful Hub!Someone asked here on Hubpages asked what would you have as the last thoughts before you leave this world and my choice would be "to have no regrets".

    • always exploring profile image

      Ruby Jean Richert 

      7 years ago from Southern Illinois

      This is full of great info.To have no regrets would be wonderful.Thank you for sharing.

    • Truckstop Sally profile image

      Truckstop Sally 

      7 years ago

      Thanks for a thoughtful and well-organized hub. I hope you are right that it is never too late . . . Your bio is quite impressive. Congrats to you for embarking on a your dream to design.

    • Highvoltagewriter profile image

      William Benner 

      7 years ago from Savannah GA.

      Very good hub, I enjoyed it very much!

    • Jeff May profile image

      Jeffrey Penn May 

      7 years ago from St. Louis

      Regrets seem to accumulate as you get older. Also, I read somewhere that we view our past through the prism of how we are feeling at this moment. So, if you feel bad, you tend to have more regrets. Thanks for a thoughtful hub.

    • Judy HBerg profile image

      Judy HBerg 

      7 years ago

      What a heartfelt, well written piece. Well done!

    • edelhaus profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Munich, Germany

      thank you!

    • Scarlett My Dear profile image

      Scarlett My Dear 

      7 years ago from Missouri

      So glad I stopped in, edelhaus! What good, solid, thoughtful advice you've given here!

      I am a firm believer in living an honest life ~ with myself and others ~ leaving little room for regret.

      Thank you for your words of wisdom.



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