- Religion and Philosophy
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.