Maybe life hasn’t gone to plan.

And maybe some of your big dreams faded many Christmases ago.  

And maybe, just maybe, you feel a bit like George Bailey from It’s A Wonderful Life, where you woke up this morning wishing you had never been born. But if you had never been born, think of all the lives you wouldn’t have touched or changed—people you wouldn’t help, bless, or inspire.

The world is a better place because you’re here. 

And let’s not forget the fact that you did indeed woke up this morning. Think about it… you’ve lived through your worst day(s), and you’re still here. That should make you feel good. Real good. 

We’ve all made poor decisions and choices. 

We all have a laundry list of regrets. 

We’re all sorry for things we said or did and for what we didn’t say or do. 

We all wonder how life might’ve turned out if we had taken that chance, said yes to that prospect, and made a better choice in the moment of decision.

However, despite ALL of that stuff…

… it’s still a wonderful life.

Maybe that’s not how you feel; that’s okay. Give it some time. But you can choose to believe it no matter how you feel. It’s called faith. Do something today that continues your journey of unlocking your best life. 

Acknowledge the ghosts of regret that haunt your thoughts and feelings because they have something important to teach you. Here are four great life lessons we can learn from regret:

Regret Enlightens 

Regret reveals insights about who we are, what drives us, and how far we’re willing to go to meet our needs. It can also show whether we’re selfish, transactional, or generous.

Instead of regretting your time on earth and wishing you were never born, strive to understand what brought you to this point; face the truth about who you are, the good and the… not so good. 

How have you been living your life? And how has that been serving you? Is there anything that needs to change?

According to PsychologyToday, “Your regret demonstrates that you care. This is a good thing. Prolonged regret, however, can interfere with all areas of your life – relationships, career, health, etc. Find your mantra. Believe in it.”

Regret Protects

Regret teaches you quickly which habits and behaviors damage your physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual health, so you don’t do it again (hopefully).  

Regret teaches you what to avoid. 

It very clearly points out the better choice in the moment of decision. 

Regret reveals the meaningless activities and illusions you wasted your time and energy on in the pursuit of happiness. 

Regret Gives Wisdom & Courage

Regret reminds us that it’s critical to face what happens to us and to deal with it right now! 

Regret teaches us NOT to put things off. To face it. Deal with it. Learn from it. 

Make a change if you must. But stop sticking your head in the sand and waiting for things to get better because they won’t. 

Things get better when you make them better. That’s what regret teaches you. Take action. Now. Bravely communicate what you want, need, and desire.

Regret teaches you to seize the moment — to live in the now courageously.

Regret Teaches Forgiveness

People make bad decisions. We’re human. It’s impossible to get it right every time. We will never stop making mistakes. We all say and do things that affect the course of each other’s lives. 

Regret teaches that forgiveness is the way forward. 

To be happy and unlock our best life, we must forgive ourselves and others for mistakes and things that should’ve been handled differently. 

What other option do we have? Dwell in the abode of eternal darkness, where bitterness wears down our soul and withers our joy, making us wish we were never born?

Forgiveness gives dawn to new hope; it’s the fresh start our heart craves.

Forgiveness doesn’t magically make everything okay. But it releases you from the tomb of regret. 

Final Thoughts

At the very least, the fact that you’re feeling some measure of regret shows you’ve learned something from the situation. 

You’re more mature and a little bit wiser. So you can either let regret punish you or develop you by using it to make better decisions today and tomorrow and the next day. You get the point.

The path to unlocking your best life isn’t paved with easy wins, rainbows, and forever smiles. 

You will have regrets. But they don’t have to break you down. Use them to build you up. 

Let regret become a solid foundation for living better. And most of all, may it teach us all that it’s still a wonderful life. 

Photo by Hailey Moeller on Unsplash

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