I listened to a Happier episode today about regret. I found the topic fascinating, in part because . . . regret isn’t logical, in a way!
You can do X and regret not doing Y.
You can do Y and regret not doing X.
But truthfully, you often can’t do two things at once! You have to choose. I feel like it might be very natural to feel like we made the wrong choice, because of the grass-is-greener phenomenon. You might not see the downside of the choice you didn’t choose.
I think this was sooooooo applicable (and mind-bendingly difficult) in the COVID era — it was so easy to regret doing something or regret NOT doing something. I think at some point, I personally had some regret fatigue. And that can be pretty paralyzing actually – it makes it hard to make any choice at all because OMG-WHAT-IF-I-GET-IT-WRONG-AND-REGRET-SOMETHING?
Let’s take Taylor Swift.
I really wanted to go, and I didn’t buy tickets.
Do I regret it? MAYBE
If I had bought tickets, would I have regretted spending thousands of dollars on (probably) bad seats with kids who may not have the concert endurance that Taylor does? MAYBE
I guess in some way my choice was made more by balancing regret probabilities than anything else.
There are also areas of life in which I feel like TINY regrets are very helpful.
I regret that I didn’t do piano with G last night. I’m trying to build this routine with her (for ~10 min, nothing crazy) but I was tired (and a bit moody – riding the hormone roller coaster right now!) and this takes a LOT of energy because even getting her to try for that length of time is very challenging for both of us.
But when I put her to bed I didn’t feel like we really spent any quality time and I felt both guilty and regretful. That feeling is helping me put piano higher on the priority list tonight even though I still don’t feel amazing.
I guess my takeaway is that I think regret is an incredibly powerful and interesting emotion and I’m glad the episode made me think about it! I do NOT regret listening to the ep 🙂
TOP 10 THINGS IN MY LIFE I DO NOT REGRET ONE BIT, IN CHRONOLOGICAL ORDER:
- My college choice
- Med school / residency / fellowship choice
- Leaving my PhD
- Starting this blog!!
- My husband choice 🙂
- Stopping running in 2010-11 to focus on fertility (I mean from this vantage point it seems like nothing but back then it felt like A Decision)
- All 3 kids!!!!
- Hiring our nanny nearly 10 yrs ago
- Going part time in my clinical role + focusing on writing/creating/podcasting
- Basically every vacation (except maybe this one lol)
SOME RANDOM THINGS I DO REGRET:
- Not starting my newsletter list earlier
- Not staring a podcast earlier!
- Not discovering the library + the hold system until I was old!
- Not seeking therapy at certain times in my life when it would have been helpful (or waiting too long to do so)
- Hours spent on social media ( + not quitting sooner!)
- . . . honestly, I had to dig pretty deep to come up with regrets! I guess that’s a good thing. (I’m not even THAT broken up about Taylor. If the stars align, I’ll see her eventually.)