I see it all perfectly; there are two possible situations—one can either do this or that. My honest opinion and my friendly advice is this: do it or do not do it—you will regret both. —Søren Kierkegaard
I live in New England, and now that the mornings are cold and I’ve switched from iced coffee to hot, I’ve begun to regret that I didn’t do more things to enjoy the summer. Why didn’t I go for bike rides? Why didn’t I have a picnic? Why didn’t I spend leisurely days at a lake or go to a pool? The frost has arrived and the long days grow shorter and I’m looking backward at what I missed.
Regret Is Bad For Your Brain
The reason I bring this up is that I recently learned about a study that reveals that regret hinders the ability to solve problems. It causes what the researchers call “ego-depletion” that made the subjects perform worse on simple calculations. However, when the same subjects were asked to consider the regretted event and come up with a resulting benefit, their ability to perform tasks improved.
Consider the Benefits
So the next time you’re hit with a regret, pause to consider what you learned or gained before returning your focus to work or the present moment.
It’s true; I didn’t do as many summery things as I might have liked. On the other hand, I made a lot of progress on Bookflow and I wrote a play. Besides, fall is my favorite season. What I’ve learned from missing out on some summery things is that I should make sure to savor fall. Corn maze! Cool hikes! Fire in the fireplace! And—yes—maybe even a pumpkin spice latte. So the next time you’re hit with a regret, pause to consider what you learned or gained before returning your focus to work or the present moment. The first frost can be the opportunity to move forward into a beautiful new season.