We live amidst a YOLO culture. We promise ourselves that we won’t have regrets and that we only live once, so we excuse our mistakes and forget about our missteps.
But, we might be underestimating the importance of a life with regrets. After all, regrets have a way of changing our lives in ways that nothing else can.
Without regrets, we might never grow, make different decisions or become the people we need to be.
If you learn to look at regrets in a new light, you’ll see that there’s no need to fear feeling badly. The next time you find yourself saying “YOLO” and promising yourself to have no regrets, remember these reasons why having regrets can make you a better person:
1. Regrets are your best teachers.
Think of regret as that tough old algebra teacher you had in high school who gave such hard tests that you had to study all night and come in early for tutoring sessions.
You hated having to work so hard for something and you really hated that teacher for being the hardest one in school. But, I’d imagine that you have more pride in that first A you got in Algebra than you do for any of the As you received in other subjects that were easier for you.
That’s how life works; when you’re challenged, feel like you failed and regret the choices you made, you are forced to return to the drawing board and figure out what went wrong.
You are forced to work harder than you want and ultimately, the success is that much sweeter.
2. Regrets make you innovative.
Regrets can lead you to think outside of your comfort zone. The truth is, when something goes right, you don’t usually change much. You don’t grow nearly when you are happy about your decisions as when you are unhappy with them.
And, why should you? If everything is great and you are feeling wonderful, there is no reason to do anything differently.
But, when you fail and regret, you have to switch up the plan which sometimes mean doing things you never thought you would. Those things can open up a world of possibility.
3. Regrets are a sign that you are trying.
If you are confident in every decision you make, are you really living? Life is about pushing boundaries and trying new things, and in order to do that, you must take risks.
With risk comes uncertainty; you never know how risks will to turn out and sometimes, they won’t turn out how you want. It will hurt, but you must remember that even through the hurt, you accomplished something.
Trial and error is part of life. It gets us from one stage to the next; failure and regret is part of that. Use regret as a merit badge that you tried, and take some pride in it.
4. Regrets can show you what you don’t want so you can figure out what you do want.
If we were 100 percent sure of everything we wanted out of life, it would be much easier to live. But, it would not be nearly as much fun. Part of growing up means realizing what you want, whom you want and how you want to get things done.
There are no set guidelines, so you must figure it out as you go. Every now and then, you might think you want something only to find out that you were wrong.
Instead of feeling stupid, angry or lying to yourself and settling for something you don’t want, feel proud of yourself for narrowing down your list.
You are one step closer to discovering what you really want in life.
5. You grow through your regrets more than you do your triumphs.
Do you remember having growing pains as a kid? They hurt so badly and you really just wanted them to be over. But then, you woke up one day and you were three inches taller and felt awesome.
That is what regrets does to adults. They hurt and you just want them to be over, but somehow you’ve survived them. You feel like you grew four inches and you are better off than you than you were beforehand.
6. Feeling badly is an important feeling to have in life.
Having regret is just another way of saying you feel badly about the way something happened. I don’t know why we are afraid to feel bad, but it’s a natural feeling and one we all should embrace.
It’s hard to feel triumphant when you haven’t felt defeated and it’s hard to feel happy when you haven’t felt badly about something. You have to learn that both feelings go hand in hand for a good life.
7. Regrets help you connect with others.
One of the best ways we can connect with others is to realize no one is perfect and that we are all a little screwed up.
Sometimes, admitting that we’ve made mistakes can help put someone on an equal playing field, which is often the best place for a healthy friendship or relationship to begin, anyway.
8. You become stronger because of regrets.
Regrets are lessons, and make you think more creatively. Figure out what you want and try harder. All of those things add up to becoming a stronger person.
9. Regrets turn you into who you are supposed to be.
You have to learn to accept your regrets as part of your story and understand how they have helped to take you to where you need to be.
Once you see that, it’s clear how regrets contribute to the wonderful, complicated and whole person you are.
10. They will be your best stories.
If you have completed the work with your regrets and have seen how they challenge you, they will become some of the best stories you have.
Whether these stories are inspiring to others or are just the most hilarious thing you can tell at a dinner party, they are yours and that is something of which you should be proud.