What would you regret if you died today?
What can you do about this right now?
When I look back over my life, there are a lot of things I have mild regret about. I sometimes wish I had been smarter when I was younger so that I didn’t feel like I have to sprint every day now to catch up. This would involve not dropping out of high school, not wasting the first three attempts in college, not accumulating debt. Stuff like that. I wouldn’t really go back and change any of it because I love my life now, but there is this vague sense that I could have done it all a little better.
A lot better actually.
There are things that have accumulated that I sometimes wish I would have done differently. I would probably treat my body better, and especially have avoided the things that have made such a mess out of my neck. This is something that is going to get progressively worse as I age and affects the things I can and cannot do, so I might take better care of myself. I would avoid the car wrecks and the stupid choices that led to them maybe. I would at least wear a seat beat for the last one.
There are the cringe-inducing parts of growing up, though mine seem to have followed me into my late twenties. I was never comfortable in my own skin, I made up stories and told straight up lies. I tried really hard to be like others, to fit in with people who simply did not like me and where I did not belong. I spent a lot of time being someone who was contrary to who I was, and to my detriment. I acted worse than I was.
There are the funnier embarrassments. Peroxide hair, bright red goatees, beer shirts every day of the week, a sparkly silver shirt I bought at the mall when I started at Texas Tech because I thought it looked nice but still hip. Anyone who has known me for very long could name a dozen more.
Out of everything I have done though, the only things I would actually change involve how I have treated people. Whether it was intentional or due to selfishness, negligence, or simple stupidity on my part, I do regret times that I hurt others and the friendships I have lost along the way.
I don’t fixate on this, and I don’t let it pull me down or into the past. I don’t even reach out to some of the people because they have made it clear they don’t want to hear from me, or because I trigger unhealthy things in them, or because regardless of what I may have done to them they are not people I want in my life.
I do the only thing I can do. I try to be very intentional in how I treat people now, and to minimize regrets in this arena. When I realize I am treating someone less than kindly, I try to apologize immediately and change the behavior.
This is what I can do here and now. Nothing else.
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I write, podcast and make videos about living in freedom through mindfulness, intentionality, compassion, and equanimity.
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