No Regrets …
By Stephen L Doherty
December 11th, 2022
“Never regret a day in your life: good days give happiness, bad days give experience, worst days give lessons, and best days give memories.”
A thousand years from now, someone will dig up my tombstone and read the inscription adorning it, “Don’t be sad that it’s over, be glad that it happened!” They’ll look at each other and wonder what it meant, and my only regret will be that I wasn’t there to tell them. Perhaps, this digital essay will survive me somewhere in the ether and some future descendant will take a break from Gunsmoke reruns and read it – and think to themselves, “You know what – that makes a little sense, right there.”
This is the mantra that guides my life. This is the formula that yields all the happiness, purpose, and satisfaction IN my life. Funny, with all the great philosophers throughout history – Thoreau, Aristotle, Twain, Nietzsche, Jung, etc., that Dr. SUESS would be the author to provide the True North to my life’s journey.
Then again, why not? Invariably, the well lived life returns us to some of the innocent joys we experienced as children. Indeed, God himself has proclaimed, “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” It seems pre-ordained that our life’s track is circular and ends where it began – looking at the world through a child’s eyes. Thus, it seems perfect that my exit will be punctuated by someone so noted for making us laugh and smile as kids.
More importantly, it highlights such an important concept that each of us would do well to embrace. We all have a past, a history – that like the root of a plant, feeds into who and what we become. But God put the roots beneath the soil for a good reason. It’s a reminder that what we ultimately become in our lives emanated from those roots – but wearing them only diminishes the beauty of the finished product.
Too many people “wear the roots” instead of celebrating the beauty of the flower. Too many people allow an unchangeable past to cripple a future of endless possibilities. Too many people are unable to shed the crippling weight of guilt and regret – preferring instead, stubbornly – the pain over the pleasure.
Research has proven that it’s nearly impossible to experience depression simultaneously with gratitude. Therefore, the enemy of regret is thankfulness, and the destroyer of sorrow is appreciation. We are all subject to the whimsical allure of melancholy which can easily transport us back to challenging times and pivotal places. A time and place where we can fantasize about different decisions creating different outcomes and different realities in our lives. Too often, it’s a dark path that can lead to negative emotions from the maddening reality that nothing behind us can ever be changed. While familiar, it’s where sadness and regret live – not solace.
When I find myself occupied thus, I merely smile and remind myself that I was lucky to have been there, to have done that, to have known them. I am ever so grateful that my journey took me by that place and time. It’s a game changer – mainly because it’s a sentiment that we can experience while traveling forward … not looking backward. In this way, gratitude and appreciation become a super-power, protecting us from the dark corners of guilt, sorrow, and regret. Words to live by. Words so worthwhile and important that they bear repeating. “Don’t be sad that it’s over, be glad that it happened!”
“Many of us crucify ourselves between two thieves – regret for the past and fear of the future.”― Fulton Oursler