Woulda, Coulda, Shoulda… !!

Posted: February 20, 2013 in Woulda, Coulda, Shoulda
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

“All The Woulda-Coulda-Shouldas Layin’ In The Sun, Talkin’ ‘Bout The Things They Woulda-Coulda-Shoulda Done…
But All Those Woulda-Coulda-Shouldas All Ran Away And Hid From One Little Did.”

3.  “I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings.”

Living a life of regret can express itself powerfully in my emotional life if left to be dominated by the unhealthy emotions that I described yesterday, for example, fear, frustration, and anger. Unfortunately, culture does not encourage a healthy emotional life in which i have the opportunity to truly understand my emotions and their causes, whether positive or negative. A life that aims to experience no regret inspires me to be thoroughly in touch with all of my emotions, whether hurt and loneliness or love and excitement, and frees me to have the courage to express those emotions in ways that are genuine and that enrich my life.

4.  “I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.”

Is there anything more important to a happy and healthy life than meaningful relationships? According to research, the answer is no; relationships are the single best predictor of happiness. Yet, a risk-free life makes fulfilling relationships a near impossibility because relationships are, by their very nature, risky and filled with regret. Also, this mobile, fast-paced, and technologically connected culture often doesn’t leave time for relationships to grow and flourish. Rejecting regret frees me from these inhibitions and allows me to pursue and continue relationships with gusto.

5.  “I wish that I had let myself be happier.”

Happiness, of course, is the supposed bottom line. What’s the point of life if it can’t be filled with joy, contentment, excitement, and everything else that accompanies happiness. Yet, when i live a safe life, it individually and cumulatively ensures that i won’t find happiness because everything related to that secure life isn’t remotely associated with happiness. When i take the risks necessary to avoid regret, i clear the path to happiness.

So there it is the top 5 reasons people dying say are regrets. Personally i have tried to embrace every opportunity i have come upon. Of course, many of those opportunities led to dead ends and, in some cases, heartbreak. Naturally i feel disappointed (oops there’s that word) that they didn’t turn out the way i wanted. But that feeling of disappointment is mild and short-lived compared to the feeling of regret i would feel if i didn’t take the shot. At the same time, along with the sadness at the failed opportunity, there is an upside. i usually feel a certain satisfaction in knowing that at least i went for it and gave it my all.

Along with regret is a question that will gnaw at me for every missed opportunity and chance to take action that passed me by: “What could have been?” “What if?” i don’t have a crystal ball to gaze into, to see what would have happened if i had let go of my fears and gone for it. Of course, good things don’t always happen when i take action, but i’m going to argue that more good things happen when i go for it than when i run from it. Even if things don’t work as planned, at least i know and, with that knowledge, i don’t spend my living (and dying) days wondering what could have been.

At the end of any given day, the past year, when I retire, or on my death-bed, i want to look back on my life and be able to say “i left it all out there.” i can only do that when i am not afraid of life. And the only way to not fear life is to believe that regret is the worst emotion i can feel.

  1. Brooke says:

    This topic makes me think of a movie I recently saw, men in black 3… In this movie there is a character I thought wow how cool would it be to have his “power” he see’s the woulda coulda and it is a fascinating thing to watch. Although he says it is a hard life. Hmmm wondering…

  2. ldipascal says:

    Ed, I’m really enjoying this series. Great job!

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