Monday, 15 February 2010

Living a Life Without Regrets

The big question Oprah asked on ownTV this week was:

"Do you have any regrets?"

And her personal response was:

"I live with no regrets, I can't think of one. I think that living with regret is such a waste of energy is such a waste of time. You are just boring yourself because you cannot change the past - absolutely cannot change it and it's wasted energy.

"Anything I might have regretted, anything I might have thought - 'hmm I maybe shouldn't have done that...' - I use that energy to focus to it on the future."

And I agree although it not always easy to live your life this way. If I said I lived a life with no regrets I'd be lying but it's something I'm working on and getting better at day-by-day.

I believe that the critical element in what Oprah has said is to remember that "you cannot change the past". No matter how awful something you may have said or done, or perhaps you wish you had said or done something, you simply cannot change it and so to continue to dwell upon this really is wasted energy.

The world we live in is so technologically advanced and is continuing to change at such a dramatic pace. However, on a biological level our bodies adapt much more slowly and the fact is that on a biological level our bodies are not keeping pace. This means that now, more than ever before, we have to safeguard our energy and we have to learn ways to safely build and replenish our energy.

In other words, we simply cannot afford to allow our energy to drain away into regrets over our past. It is totally wasted there. We have to learn how to reclaim any energy we're leaking over regrets so that it is available for us to use now in the present so that we can create our desired future. Otherwise, what happens is that our lives become a vicious circle.

Now just because you eliminate your regrets doesn't mean that you don't learn from those, for want of a better word, "negative experiences". One of the biggest regrets I hear people talk about relates to time spent with family members and loved ones. There are all sorts of distractions that can get in the way of our spending more quality time with those we care about. But you often have to lose something or risk losing it before you realise how precious it is to you.

I believe that our lives, for the most part, are meant to be joyful. If this is the case then carrying a burden of regrets is counterproductive.

So how can we become better at living a life of no regrets? Here are three tips...

1. Exist in the Present
Fully exist in the present moment. In other words aim to give whatever you set out to do 100% of your attention. You will achieve better results in a shorter space of time when you do this.

2. Map Out Your Vision
Spend time to clearly map out your vision of what you want from life. This will help you to make better decisions so that you spend your time doing the things that will move you towards your goals rather than away from them.

3. Evaluate Each Day
Spend time at the end of each day evaluating your day – the things that went well and the things that didn't turn out so well and why. You can use this information to make better plans for the new day. This will also make it easier for you to spot those occasions when your best option is to bailout so you don't spend any longer than necessary in that particular situation.

And remember as heart surgeon, Internet entrepreneur and founder of the Dr Mani Children Heart Foundation, Dr Mani said:

"And in the end, have no regrets. We are all human and therefore imperfect. We will always make mistakes. And that's ok. Yes, things could have been better. But they could also have been worse.

"The only question you must ask yourself is this: 'Did I do my best?'"

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