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Guest Column

Regret is an ugly and stupid word
By Jim Fabiano
Jul 22, 2014 - 12:12:24 AM

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Webster defines regret as: sorrow aroused by events beyond one's control or an expression of sorrow. The problem I have with the term is it has to do with one's past. This means there is not a damn thing one can do about it because it is done and over. Other than learning from it, why would anyone expend any energy obsessing over what could have been.

I checked multiple web sites concerning this problem of regret. To my surprise there were many. Then thinking back over what I could have regretted I came up with the following:

Staying in a bad relationship. The basic problem with this regret is everything changes and nothing stays the same. In other words, what may be a bad relationship now can evolve into something quite remarkable if it is not eliminated. In today's society as soon as one feels difficulty it quickly eliminates it. This is the reason why divorce rates are forever increasing and marriage rates are going the other way. If one is trying to find the perfect relationship they will come to the understanding that nothing is perfect. Actually the only perfection is nothing (entropy). Sorry I had to throw in some chemistry.

Another common regret was being scared to try something new. I thought that waking up in the morning was trying something new. Why does trying something different have to be grandiose? Why can't it be something like eating asparagus or taking a walk in a park or down a new beach? One doen't have to regret they never started a corporation, jumping off a cliff, or even writing a book? Now that one could turn into a regret but as I stated before what is done is done.

Many people regret caring too much about what people think about you. Why should you? If someone doesn't like you simply get away from that person. Why would anyone want to be surrounded by a person who doesn't like you? There are many people in this world to choose from and I am sure there are many people who will like you. You also make the person who doesn't like you win because their whole purpose is to aggravate and if you are annoyed by this person they basically won by making you regret.

Many people listed the concept of holding grudges as one of their biggest regrets. This is actually a dumb exercise. What is done is done and there is nothing on this planet that can change what happened in the past. When you hold a grudge all you are succeeding in doing is continuing what made you hold the grudge in the first place. Plus grudges have a tendency to evolve into revenge. If there were ever something to regret it would be the attempt to take that revenge back. Reality states that this is impossible to do.

Working too much is a regret most people believe is their greatest regret. The question is, what is work? Most everyone works and believe it or not most everyone enjoys what they do because they continue to do it. The worse situation is not being allowed to work. Then you roll into the concept of boredom and there is nothing worse than having nothing to do. I tell my students this a lot when they become stressed because of all the things they have to do. I tell them to think how they would be if they had nothing to do and how they would feel. They usually get this point.

Finally lets talk about stress. It is a known fact that stress will hurt you both physically and mentally. Stress never helps anything. In fact, it usually makes things worse. Also what you were stressed out from last year is probably totally different from what stresses you today. I believe the best way to beat stress is to think about past stresses and how they know longer exist. In reality what you were a year ago is probably different from what you are today and in a year from now you will again become a different person. To stress about things that will eventually change is simply foolish.

Webster defines regret as: sorrow aroused by events beyond one's control or an expression of sorrow. The problem I have with the term is it has to do with one's past. This means there is not a damn thing one can do about it. There is another definition of regret, "a note politely refusing to accept an invitation." I am going to write myself a note stating that I will never regret anything.

Jim Fabiano is a teacher and writer living in York, Maine

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