Unregret Your Life: 7 Ways to Live a Less Regretful Life
As I’ve journeyed through my midlife, regret frequently becomes a traveling companion. Thoughts of missed opportunities and mistakes will rise up, tease me and propel me into a funk for a few days or weeks.
Unmanaged, middle age regret can spin itself into a midlife depression. And unchecked, depression can be carried right into our senior years. Keep in mind, depression, regardless of age, could require professional support if it becomes overwhelming or life threatening.
A recent study published in the April 19 issue of Science suggests seniors who have not learned to shake off regrets tend to live emotionally unhealthy and depressed lives.
Since I never envisioned myself as becoming that cranky old man (“get off my lawn”), I thought it best to research ways to manage regrets while still in my youthful not-set-in-my-ways healthy midlife.
7 Ways to Unregret Your life and Enjoy Brighter Days
I found the following tips to be helpful in managing regretful thoughts. Across the Web, I found plenty of “living with no regrets” tips. However, my belief is that regrets do serve a purpose in providing guidance in our lives. The healthy idea is to learn what it’s telling us, let go and move on.’
1. Make Your Health a Top Priority
Our ability to manage regrets and depression is enhanced when we’re feeling well. In recent years, there have been plenty of studies showing that inflammatory-causing foods, processed foods and fatty foods can actually cause depression.
A healthy diet plus regular physical activity can help us manage the down times in our lives and give us the inner resources to get back up.
Spontaneous Happiness by Dr. Andrew Weil is great resource on how to establish a healthy state of well-being to combat depression.
Also, consider finding a Health Coach who can help guide you to a health and wellness-oriented lifestyle.
2. Take Mistakes in Stride
Mistakes happen. In fact, some of our greatest moments of growth come from making mistakes. Instead of kicking myself and creating a negative energy around mistakes I’ve made, I’m learning to be thankful for them. Learn from them, figure out what the true cause is and move on a bit wiser.
3. Focus on Positive Events of Each Day
An activity I learned from the Integrative Nutrition course I’m taking this year and from the Spontaneous Happiness book is to finish each day by writing 3 positive things that happened that day and how they happened. Doing so helps to focus and retrain the mind on spotting the positive events of the day instead of the negative ones.
This activity will help put our day’s events into a positive perspective and allow us to move on cleanly to another day.
4. Laugh More
A good laugh can put us into a good bliss. It’s invigorating and can help us become less depressed and anxious with our lives. Plus it has healing properties. A study of depressed senior citizen showed that patients who recovered more quickly were those who had a sense of humor.
If you need to develop a sense of humor, a great exercise is to practice laughing every morning for 5 minutes. The rush of endorphins will put you in a great mood and brush away those brooding regrets. Try this exercise out for 30 days and see what it does for your overall mood.
5. Spend Time with People Who Make You Happy
Brooding on regrets doesn’t stand a chance when we’re surrounded by people who make us feel good, we’ll just naturally be in a happy state of well-being.
On the flipside, being surrounded by people who depress us…well… not a good idea when we’re practicing a non-brooding lifestyle.
6. Do Something Each Day that Makes You Proud
When looking in the mirror, are you proud of what you see? Are you the type of person you’d like to be friends with? Building pride in who we are will go a long way toward letting regrets slide by.
Look for opportunities to practice random acts of kindness throughout the day. This can be a fun and fulfilling activity.
- Complement someone randomly while shopping (“that’s a good color on you”).
- Toss a few bucks into the hat of a sports youth looking for money to send their team off to the finals.
- While driving, let someone into your lane.
- Look for charitable organizations needing volunteers.
- Write a letter of gratitude to someone you know.
7. Learn to Forgive Others and Yourself
If we’re the regretful type, this is probably one of the hardest tasks. But the most effective and life changing.
Sometimes, those we need to forgive are buried deep in our psyche. True forgiveness takes practice, especially when it comes to forgiving ourselves.
For me, the act of forgiveness begins with understanding that everyone makes mistakes. And that misdirected actions and behaviors are generally based on confusion, misinformation or fear.
What makes it easier for me is that the act of forgiveness does not have to include understanding the person who wronged us or even ourselves. It’s just learning to let go. And move on.
An affirmation I learned years ago is still one of the most powerful methods I use to forgive. Said in a quiet, prayerful state, it’s an unconditional act that can provide release over time. When past regrets or resentments sprout up, or new ones appear, I repeat the following quietly to myself:
I love you (or myself), I forgive you (or myself) and I accept you (or myself), even though I don’t understand you (or myself).
Regrets have their temporary place in our lives. But they shouldn’t have a strangle hold. They can guide us to make improvements, gain a bit of learning and grow.
Part of the benefits of being middle age is that fact that we have the wisdom and experience to change those parts of ourselves that don’t serve us well. I want to be a senior citizen who shrugs it all off and heads outside to enjoy the warm sunshine.
How do you manage regrets? Visit our community on Facebook.com/HealthyMidlife and share your experience.