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Regret destroys possibilities

Letters live.

Daniel Kahneman (2011) mentions regret is an emotion. It is a punishment we administer to ourselves. It is one of the counterfactual emotions, triggered by the availability of alternatives to reality.

Life is like an uncertain journey. As a kid, I’m told to make plans for the future. Plans which eventually reaches a successful life. However, with more experiences I have, I starts to realise, life is metaphysics. When there are a million outcomes from one cause, the cause itself is not so crucial because there will never a certainty future that exists.

Then, regret becomes futile in this case. For instance, people may be digging a hole in which they imagine the result if they have done or haven't done something. And that imaginary outcome is just one out of a million scenarios. Unfortunately, regret still exists in our lives no matter how hard we train ourselves to be more rational and logical in thinking.

A woman may regret she never contributed enough to her family and thus the kids do wrong in their lives. An adult may regret they did not choose the subject they have passion for, so they end up doing things they don't enjoy for the rest of their lives. Moreover, anyone can regret that we did not buy the stock of Apple 10 years ago, so we are not millionaires today, etc.

Bull 丨Kun Lu

"What if..."

The phrase: what if. Is such a creative tool when you want to think outside the box, but it is also an insidious evil that destroys our motivation to face reality.

Human is a loss averse. The level of happiness you reach when you find $10 on the floor is less significant compared to the level of emotion you have when you lose $10 while commuting. The $10 you get probably will light you up for a couple of hours, but the $10 you lose perhaps will ruin your mood for the rest of the day. It is sad to acknowledge that we are so vulnerable to losses, and it may cost people a long time to bounce back.

Here, I am going to list some tips that helps me to avoid regret. It is essential to mention that regret will always be with us as a mood. We cannot cut it off permanently no matter how hard we try. But, it is not stoppable as long as we are aware of it.

  • Turning "What if" into "So what" when you are thinking of changing the reality. Focus on the solution, not the past.

  • Broadening the frame. A slight loss could be a part of the significant gain. So, think Big.

  • Think of regret as an object, befriend with it instead of endlessly fighting against it.

  • The world still operates with or without your decisions. Relax your stresses.

  • Not knowing the future is okay. Not your fault, not anyone’s fault.


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