Do you have any regrets in life? As I approach my 38th birthday I am reflecting on 5 Things I Wish I Had Done Sooner in Life. It takes a lot of self-control to let go of the past, but it’s very important to me to make the most of my life. A life without regrets is one worth living, but to achieve it you must first accept what was to be able to enjoy what is and will be.
5 Things I Wish I Had Done Sooner (that I am doing now)
It took me a long time to think about living life without regrets. Perhaps it was my experience with Covid combined with the loss of two loved ones that shifted my personal mantra. Or maybe it was lessons learned over three years of therapy reflecting on my past and current battles with catastrophic thinking, insecurities, and health anxiety. Whatever the reason, I have made a huge shift in how I look at my life. I view every day as an opportunity to live versus 24 hours to exist.
We all have regrets, but it’s not about what we haven’t done and more so what we do moving forward. Is it normal and healthy to wish you had done something differently? In some capacity, I believe it is. For regret teaches us lessons and it forces us to reassess our lives for the better.
1. Quit counting the years I am alive.
My birthday is next week and truthfully, I was unsure of how old I am turning until a few days ago. It’s not a personal issue with getting older, but more so of a numbers thing. They say ‘age is nothing but a number;’ and certain numbers are more significant than others in our society. At 5 you can go to Kindergarten, at 13 you’re a teenager, at 16 you can drive, 18 you can vote, and 21 you can drink alcohol. The pressure to fulfill the expectations held at each age may not seem like much and is relatively exciting to the majority. But for me, there is more to it. When I turned 30, the idea of an age as a milestone was no longer appealing. Ever since then I have tried to quit counting and just be.
2. Exercise for my mind, body, and soul.
I used to exercise to achieve something — weight loss, muscle tone, a spring break body. Now I workout for my mind, body, and soul. It took me years to realize being physically active is so much more than being physical. Exercise is a comprehensive mental health activity I need every day to be a happier human. It is soothing from inside out and I am a better person because of it.
3. Let go of the painful past.
We all have painful moments in our past. A broken friendship, a missed opportunity, an intense argument — whatever it is, for some reason I’ve always held on to the pain. All of the little bits of negativity associated with a difficult event eventually add up and blend together in my mind. It creates insecurities and anxious thoughts — and is completely pointless.
4. Take responsibility and forgive.
It’s a hard pill to swallow — admitting you are wrong — but sometimes you just need a bigger glass of water to get it down. I used to be so quick to blame someone else in a situation. But I have recently learned it’s not always their fault. Sometimes it’s mine. The only way to move forward is to take responsibility and forgive yourself. And if it was their fault — give them a chance to earn your forgiveness.
5. Stop trying to please everyone.
One of the most valuable things I have learned from my husband: it is OK if someone doesn’t like you. We aren’t meant to please every person we encounter. However, I have always had an uncontrollable desire to make others happy. I have wasted countless minutes fighting for attention, seeking approval, or even attempting to make a person smile. The truth is there are so many people on this planet and only few are going to be worth my (and your) time. It’s not anyone’s job to make sure the world is happy when our purpose is to fulfill our own happiness bucket. WE are responsible for our own happiness.
The Things I Will Never Regret Doing in Life
At the end of my time, whenever it may be, I hope to look back fondly at my efforts. A new friend bestowed a wonderful quote by Karen Lamb upon me that I will think of often: “A year from now you may wish you started today.” Why not take chances and make changes if you are given the opportunity? While I know bad days are imminent, it is impossible to squeeze joy out of every situation, it’s always worth trying some-thing. And if I try to live my life intentionally, practice forgiveness, and learn from regret, then hopefully I will have done life right (and the best that I can).