Tuesday, 3 January 2012


"The saddest summary of life contains three descriptions: could have, might have and should have."

I envy people who say they have no regrets…how can’t I? I have many!

I believe people who say they have no regrets are lying through their teeth or they are highly evolved. No one’s that perfect. We all make mistakes, hate ourselves for doing so and resolve that we will never make those mistakes again.

Easier said than done. I remember at least a thousand of those moments when I wish I had kept my mouth shut, not put my foot in my mouth, not bitched and gossiped, hurt someone, not shouted at my children and husband, not been lazy, not made some really bad choices, or not made some inopportune decisions.

Not that I believe my life has been only about regrets and I have no memorable and happy moments, but yes there have been some moments and instances I wish I could replay differently.

We all regret things in our life to varying degrees so it was interesting to read what psychologists have to say about regretting. I cite here the work of psychologists Neal Roese and Amy Summerville. Their research project, "What We Regret Most… And Why," sheds new light on this somewhat disquieting and cruel emotion.

Their findings rank the categories that trigger regret, in the following order of frequency: education (32%), career (22%), romance (15%), parenting (10%) and self (5.47%) were the top five.

For the most part, I am sure all of us will agree. Most of us would rather look back and regret the things we did than the things we didn’t do. Studies have proven that regrets of inaction persist much longer than regrets of action.
Overall, these findings show that people’s biggest regrets are a reflection of where in life they see their largest opportunities; that is, where they see tangible prospects for change, growth and renewal.

Though difficult to let go of the feeling of regret, I do believe like everyone else, that it is better to move on and learn from those regrets. Constantly berating myself will not help me to get over those feelings of regret. One should actually channel those feelings into something positive and use the slightly unsettling feeling of regret to motivate oneself to do something about it.

I strongly adhere to the actuality that these feelings of regret have spurred me into action many a times making me a better person, thinking before speaking and doing things I have been too lazy to do.

I, like everyone else, do not live a perfect life and have by no stretch of imagination accomplished everything that I set out to do. However, as the New Year beckons, it is time to resolve to reflect on the past, learn from it and work towards a newer and better future. Little can be done for the missed opportunities of the past. It is time to be a better and evolved “me”…one who is not afraid to take chances. It is better to have tried and failed…than not have tried at all.


  1. Dahlings, so another year is upon us and it is time to review last year’s resolutions and make them anew! Or maybe, decide on new ones as the earlier ones were thrown out by the end of the first week of January! But regret is one thought that we need not dwell on in the least.
    Well, we need to remember that we humans, though endowed with intelligence and discrimination, move through life by force of habit. Habits, which have been formed in the past of not only this but also previous lives! When we give in to an emotion such as anger and do it more than once, it becomes a habit and that is one aspect of karma that we have accumulated over many, many lives (84 lakh, as our sages say). Animals by contrast, never go wrong as they are governed by instincts, inborn in them; they are incapable of making choices that go contrary to their instincts.
    What can we do then? We need to improve our awareness of thought and action and thus throw off the yoke of habit. There is that little voice in us all which we call intuition which we need to learn to listen to. Often, we are not able to make out whether the voice within is our mind or our intuition. The only way to make the inner voice louder is to still the mind. It is only in this stillness that our true nature of eternal bliss can be discovered.
    How this stillness can be developed? Well, meditation is one vehicle. In Zen, it is taught that our true nature cannot be realised unless all effort ceases and meditation is an effort! So, how does this paradox resolve? You will have to wait some more and be ready to receive the answer first!
    In the meanwhile, don’t regret anything you have done, the past is but a memory in your ever agitated mind and the future is your projection of the past in your memory. You only have the present, live in it and see the difference.
    One resolution which will go a long way in improving your life immediately is to postpone doing the bad and do the good without delay. Don’t we do the reverse always, instead?
    Keep smiling and as Paramhansa Yogananda always said, become a smile millionaire, doesn’t cost a penny but grants many rewards.
    Here’s to a great 2012 – ever yours Aunt Agony.

  2. In the past in any given situation I did exactly what I could have based on my own level of understanding at that time.... today I am wiser and when I look back I know what went wrong.. that's it.. fine..

  3. Thank you all for your insights and comments. There is so much we can learn from each other.