Author Topic: My take on regret  (Read 314 times)

Offline Mr.Obvious (OP)

My take on regret
« on: October 18, 2017, 07:41:14 AM »
The Obvious take on regret

I’m guessing that I’m getting in that stage of my life that the first great round of regrets is going around. I’m not talking about the kind of; I should or shouldn’t have asked Melissa to the ball. I should or shouldn’t have gone to that party. I should or shouldn’t have spent the entire night studying. I should or shouldn’t have tried shrooms that one time. No, I’m in that phase in which friends have started moving out and making their own homes. Some sooner than me, some later.

Me? At twenty-six I’m currently still living at home. For the past 9 months my girlfriend and I have been completely renovating the house we bought. It’s finally coming together and in a few months we should be able to move in together. A big step, but I’m looking forward to it. Some of my friends have been living alone or with their partner for a few years now. My best friend, two years older than me, only just finished studying and still has some way to go, I fear. With a master’s degree in philosophy, his chances of finding a job in the sector he studied for are… limited.

And that’s the first real stage of regret, isn’t it? Did I pick the right studies? After all, here we are in a third of our lives and its going to be hard to turn it all around now. Did my partner and I make the right choice in living together? Two of my best friends for the past 15 years split up a few months ago. They’d been living together for years. And where do you find yourself then? Suddenly you have a car and an apartment neither of you wants anymore. You’ve ‘wasted’ all those years… Think of where you could be, now. Hell, when I’d thought about my life, I would have thought to have left my parent’s home at the latest two years ago. I’m glad we bought the house, but perhaps we should have …

Therein lies the problem of regret though. I start hearing from friends  and family and coworkers about how disheartened some of them are at how life turned out. People who tally up all the ‘good scores’ and ‘al the bad scores’ and who at any point in their lives want to see if they are, on the whole, doing alright and coming out on top. People who shirk away from regret as if it is proof that you are somehow ‘losing the game’.

I find this to be a ridiculous way to look at regret. People see it as something solely negative and try to reduce it because of that reason. Yet it piles on, year after year. But what is regret, when you get down to it?

Regret is nothing but he inevitable side-effect of making a choice. The only ones who can not regret anything, are slaves in the truest sense of the word. They are those who have absolutely no say in how their lives turn out. And while sometimes we like to be told what to do or choose or buy or try… These kinds of slaves are purely hypothetical, non-existent as our choices not to make a choice are always and foremost a choice in themselves. So forget about banning regret. You’re going to have it. And guess what? You’re going to have a quasi-infinite amount of it, if you look at it rationally. After all, for every choice we make one way, we rule out a greater deal of options. Our choices aren’t ‘Art school’ or ‘Studying Law’. They aren’t  even ‘Studying’ or ‘not studying’.  There are always more options than A and B.  So not only are you going to face regret in your life… You’re going to face what seems like an infinite amount of regret for all the paths you didn’t take, stacking up against the one path you did.

And it is because of that that if you ever find yourself ‘tallying the scores’, you already know you’ve lost. Because you have decided to make it into a game in which you face an infinitely stronger and better equipped foe.  No matter how happy you might feel in your life, if you think about it honestly; what you have can never stack up against the infinite possibilities of what you could have had. This aligns with my views on the overratedness of being happy, but perhaps that’s a rant for some other time.

What is a better way then? Trying not to think about it? Most people seem to adopt this strategy. Almost equally foolish, I say. Apart from the fact that regret is a valuable teacher… It grows exponentially as the years fly by. You can’t outrun it forever. Its weight will crush you, if you give it any.

No. The best way to look at regret is accepting it for what it is; the eternal cost for having agency in your own life. And because this toll is limitless and unavoidable, it’s not something worth getting hung up over. The point is that whatever you decide, you will face quasi-infinite regret. And precisely because of that, regret is without inherent meaning or weight. It is not some tally of negative and dumb shit you’ve done. It’s solely the proof you were at any and every junction in your life and acted like a thinking, living, breathing human being.

Viewed in this light, you will see that life is not really about coming out on top. It’s not about dragging out the best possible outcome out of your options. It’s not about having the least amount of regrets. Because guess what? That would be something everyone would lose at. At least, if they were intellectually honest about it.

Life is not some grand competition. It’s a journey. It’s not a test. It’s an experience. And if you embrace the inescapability and infinity of regret you won’t spend that journey needlessly looking back. You won’t muddle that experience of the here and now by reaching for a past you can’t feel anymore. And you won’t sit down and start torturing yourself over what could have been and how you could have improved your rankings in the test, instead, you’ll see that in whatever part of your life you are, as long as you have life, your journey can and will continue.

If ever you find yourself unhappy, I hope you do and choose something that will make you feel more complete and fulfilled. And there is nothing wrong with re-evaluating your life. But just realize that your choices always lead you forward. And above all, accept that you can’t fail at life as long as you don’t make it into a test. All you can do truly do is take a different path.
E = Mc²

In the end, we are all standing in the dark,
trying to figure out why we are here.
But let us not choose one direction
without proof of where it is headed.

Check your pocket for matches
so we can observe and learn together
as fast friends and relative idiots.

Offline Cavebear

Re: My take on regret
« Reply #1 on: October 18, 2017, 07:55:15 AM »
The Obvious take on regret

I’m guessing that I’m getting in that stage of my life that the first great round of regrets is going around. I’m not talking about the kind of; I should or shouldn’t have asked Melissa to the ball. I should or shouldn’t have gone to that party. I should or shouldn’t have spent the entire night studying. I should or shouldn’t have tried shrooms that one time. No, I’m in that phase in which friends have started moving out and making their own homes. Some sooner than me, some later.

If ever you find yourself unhappy, I hope you do and choose something that will make you feel more complete and fulfilled. And there is nothing wrong with re-evaluating your life. But just realize that your choices always lead you forward. And above all, accept that you can’t fail at life as long as you don’t make it into a test. All you can do truly do is take a different path.

I understand what you are saying.  I have regrets myself.  But at 26?  BOY do you have a lot of regrets coming to you. LOL! 
Atheist born, atheist bred.  And when I die, atheist dead!  b 1950

Offline Mr.Obvious (OP)

Re: My take on regret
« Reply #2 on: October 18, 2017, 08:09:32 AM »
I understand what you are saying.  I have regrets myself.  But at 26?  BOY do you have a lot of regrets coming to you. LOL!

Aye, that's why it's only the first round. :p
But seriously, I get a lot of friends may age telling me about how much they regret this and that. How stuck they feel, with 'the wrong choices'... It'll only grow, I know.
E = Mc²

In the end, we are all standing in the dark,
trying to figure out why we are here.
But let us not choose one direction
without proof of where it is headed.

Check your pocket for matches
so we can observe and learn together
as fast friends and relative idiots.

Offline Cavebear

Re: My take on regret
« Reply #3 on: October 18, 2017, 09:47:49 AM »
Aye, that's why it's only the first round. :p
But seriously, I get a lot of friends may age telling me about how much they regret this and that. How stuck they feel, with 'the wrong choices'... It'll only grow, I know.

Well, OK. And no offense meant.  But regrets accumulate.  You have to sort of get used to them.

When I was 20, my girlfriend broke up with me the day before Valentine's Day.  I had to eat a lot of chocolate.

When I was 30, a girlfriend announced she was a lesbian.

When I was 40, I had my first big break at work when the Office Director said to be prepared to become the Branch Chief of another group.  I studied everything they did.  Then, nothing. 

When I was 50, I had created an entire videoconferencing network, praised by all.  And then the CFO proved he couldn't divide by 10 and thought it cost $9,000/hour instead on $900 and killed it.  $900 per hour saved on travel expenses, $9,000 didn't.  By the time I learned the reason, it was too late.  I was THE telecommunications manager at a Federal Agency, but that doesn't beat a CFO.

At 51, I was transferred to a bywater office (because the videoconferencing project was a failure (coff, coff))

At 56, I retired with a full inflation-adjusted annuity.  And I plan to live long and prosper (no regrets there).  I'm LOVING retirement.


Atheist born, atheist bred.  And when I die, atheist dead!  b 1950

Offline Mr.Obvious (OP)

Re: My take on regret
« Reply #4 on: October 18, 2017, 10:21:29 AM »
Well, OK. And no offense meant.  But regrets accumulate.  You have to sort of get used to them.

Aye, and so I agree in the text.
E = Mc²

In the end, we are all standing in the dark,
trying to figure out why we are here.
But let us not choose one direction
without proof of where it is headed.

Check your pocket for matches
so we can observe and learn together
as fast friends and relative idiots.

Offline Cavebear

Re: My take on regret
« Reply #5 on: October 18, 2017, 10:23:12 AM »
Aye, and so I agree in the text.

Well, my point was that the longer you live, it is natural to acumulate regrets. 
Atheist born, atheist bred.  And when I die, atheist dead!  b 1950

Offline aitm

Re: My take on regret
« Reply #6 on: October 18, 2017, 11:06:05 AM »
Good post and spot on.

As an eternal optimist, regret is short lived for me. I look back at some of my peers who have been far more successful than myself and I wonder "what if" in lots of cases. But in all honesty, I took the gambles that life offered. For me it seems like every time I got a chance to get in the race, there was only one horse available, but I took it and off we went and in most cases we sprinted to the front and were leading and then its like the trainer steps out of the crowd and shoots the horse....or the owner decides to pull the horse 100 yds from the finish. In 4 big moments of life where I could have gone on to much bigger and better things I was "sabotaged" by those I was hired to ride the horse for.

So I don't regret getting in the race, I am disappointed that I was "that" close and someone else knocked me out. But not taking that chance would have been regretful. And it is possible if I didn't take the chance I could have had better success down a different path, but goodness man, that opens the discussion into the opaqueness of multiple "if only's"

At one time I was the "darling" of the construction estimating group, an incredible 42% win percentage with an unheard of 1.5% swing  from the next bidder and always on the cusp of taking these little companies from 10 mil a year to 100. But, people decided they didn't want to get that big, or they didn't want to face the financial headache of such a large company, so.....

Now at 60 I don't have the energy or desire to get in the race anymore. So I went sideways, I run medium sized construction projects ranging from 6 to 30 million. Right now I am building a Holiday Inn in Orlando. I am satisfied that I gave myself many shots to get in another race and must face the reality that the horses I had to ride simply were never going to win, but, I would have regretted not getting in the race.

As for personal life, like getting married and kids etc., if you spend too much time looking back the future will run over you and you'll miss that too. You just keep going, looking forward. But you are most certainly right that spending too much time looking back will only make one miserable because in hindsight there were other paths you could have taken, but you took that path you thought was the right one. Can't do more than that.
 
A humans desire to live is exceeded only by their willingness to die for another. Even god cannot equal this magnificent sacrifice. No god has the right to judge them.-first tenant of the Panotheust

Offline Cavebear

Re: My take on regret
« Reply #7 on: October 18, 2017, 11:21:45 AM »
Good post and spot on.

As an eternal optimist, regret is short lived for me. I look back at some of my peers who have been far more successful than myself and I wonder "what if" in lots of cases. But in all honesty, I took the gambles that life offered. For me it seems like every time I got a chance to get in the race, there was only one horse available, but I took it and off we went and in most cases we sprinted to the front and were leading and then its like the trainer steps out of the crowd and shoots the horse....or the owner decides to pull the horse 100 yds from the finish. In 4 big moments of life where I could have gone on to much bigger and better things I was "sabotaged" by those I was hired to ride the horse for.

So I don't regret getting in the race, I am disappointed that I was "that" close and someone else knocked me out. But not taking that chance would have been regretful. And it is possible if I didn't take the chance I could have had better success down a different path, but goodness man, that opens the discussion into the opaqueness of multiple "if only's"

At one time I was the "darling" of the construction estimating group, an incredible 42% win percentage with an unheard of 1.5% swing  from the next bidder and always on the cusp of taking these little companies from 10 mil a year to 100. But, people decided they didn't want to get that big, or they didn't want to face the financial headache of such a large company, so.....

Now at 60 I don't have the energy or desire to get in the race anymore. So I went sideways, I run medium sized construction projects ranging from 6 to 30 million. Right now I am building a Holiday Inn in Orlando. I am satisfied that I gave myself many shots to get in another race and must face the reality that the horses I had to ride simply were never going to win, but, I would have regretted not getting in the race.

As for personal life, like getting married and kids etc., if you spend too much time looking back the future will run over you and you'll miss that too. You just keep going, looking forward. But you are most certainly right that spending too much time looking back will only make one miserable because in hindsight there were other paths you could have taken, but you took that path you thought was the right one. Can't do more than that.

My Dad was on your side, not that he ever actually dared anything himself.

He used to tell me "better to be a small frog in a big pond than a big frog in a small pond.

Yeah right!

I fond a small career pond and became the biggest in it, and had a grand time.  I saw idiots with delusions of grandeur rise and fall..  Meanwhile, I just kept chugging on slowly and did a lot of good for where I worked.  Improving things, saving money, and

The day I retired, I simply walked away.  Rode off into the sunset, if you will.  Declined the farewell party.  I didn't need it.  I knew what I had done.  That was fine with me. Went home and told the cat's "Well, I'm yours 24/7 now". 

And I'm happy about that. 
Atheist born, atheist bred.  And when I die, atheist dead!  b 1950

Offline Baruch

Re: My take on regret
« Reply #8 on: October 18, 2017, 07:36:57 PM »
Well, OK. And no offense meant.  But regrets accumulate.  You have to sort of get used to them.

When I was 20, my girlfriend broke up with me the day before Valentine's Day.  I had to eat a lot of chocolate.

When I was 30, a girlfriend announced she was a lesbian.

When I was 40, I had my first big break at work when the Office Director said to be prepared to become the Branch Chief of another group.  I studied everything they did.  Then, nothing. 

When I was 50, I had created an entire videoconferencing network, praised by all.  And then the CFO proved he couldn't divide by 10 and thought it cost $9,000/hour instead on $900 and killed it.  $900 per hour saved on travel expenses, $9,000 didn't.  By the time I learned the reason, it was too late.  I was THE telecommunications manager at a Federal Agency, but that doesn't beat a CFO.

At 51, I was transferred to a bywater office (because the videoconferencing project was a failure (coff, coff))

At 56, I retired with a full inflation-adjusted annuity.  And I plan to live long and prosper (no regrets there).  I'm LOVING retirement.

Most people have sucky lives like that.  Not that I want it to be so, or for it to be your story.  Live for today, forget about the past (regret).

Tell your cats not to mind, if I borrow their scratching post ;-)

Obvious ... seems you might know more about philosophy than that friend of yours ;-)
« Last Edit: October 18, 2017, 07:43:41 PM by Baruch »
שלום

Offline Munch

Re: My take on regret
« Reply #9 on: October 18, 2017, 07:38:26 PM »
at 37 I've got a list of regrets.

- My first boyfriend turning out to being a psycho and always to this day wondering if I couldn't have helped him somehow.

- My first and only dog being put down after only 2 years when they deemed him suffering from behavior difficulties and untrainable, I loved him, even after he bite me a few times.

- Losing contact with friends who i opened up so much to, including one who ran off with another 'friend' who turned out to being a manipulative cow who just liked stringing people along.

- My dad, in not having developed any kind of relationship with him, hoping to having done so when I was young, and then just seeing him rot away from alcoholism until it killed him. Just hoping I might have had a father figure. I guess also just the fact my one real male role model in my family, my grandfather, died when i was only 9, and only have a vivid memory of him.

theres other little things here and there, but everyone had regrets they learn to live with, and grow from.

Offline Mr.Obvious (OP)

Re: My take on regret
« Reply #10 on: October 19, 2017, 02:09:10 AM »

Obvious ... seems you might know more about philosophy than that friend of yours ;-)

I know enough about philosophy to not choose it as my major.  :p
E = Mc²

In the end, we are all standing in the dark,
trying to figure out why we are here.
But let us not choose one direction
without proof of where it is headed.

Check your pocket for matches
so we can observe and learn together
as fast friends and relative idiots.

Offline Baruch

Re: My take on regret
« Reply #11 on: October 19, 2017, 03:57:18 AM »
I know enough about philosophy to not choose it as my major.  :p

Some guys are just thinkers not doers.  Like management, only they don't manage anything.
שלום

Offline pr126

Re: My take on regret
« Reply #12 on: October 19, 2017, 04:02:44 AM »
“True Ignorance is not the absence of knowledge but the refusal to acquire it.” - Karl Popper

Offline trdsf

Re: My take on regret
« Reply #13 on: October 19, 2017, 01:01:55 PM »
Regrets?  Maybe a couple, but nothing overwhelming.  Mostly they involved not having the information then that I have now, so they're kind of no-fault, and I refuse to beat myself up over things that were perfectly reasonable choices given the data then available.

I can list a few things I wish I had done differently.  I wish I had come out earlier in life than I did.  I wish I hadn't gotten diverted from science in college.  I wish we'd turned our APA professional when we had the chance, because genuine chances to break into the ranks of professional authors don't come along every day (month, year, decade...).

Well, I'm out now.  And I do a lot of citizen/crowd science.  And I'm determined to get published anyway.  So, regrets are managed and being corrected for.

That's really all you can do.
"It's hard to be religious when certain people are never incinerated by bolts of lightning." -- Calvin and Hobbes
"I thought I committed regicide today, but I committed deicide!" -- Sadie Doyle, Beyond Belief

Re: My take on regret
« Reply #14 on: October 19, 2017, 08:08:59 PM »
What's a regret?
Winner of WitchSabrinas Best Advice Award 2012


We can easily forgive a child who is afraid of the dark; the real
tragedy of life is when men are afraid of the light. -Plato