"The problem I have with regret is it has to do with one’s past. This means there’s not a thing one can do about it because it’s done and over."
Credit: George Danby / BDN

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Jim Fabiano is a retired teacher and writer living in York.

Many people talk about regrets they had in 2022. These include financial regrets, personal regrets and health regrets that usually describe what happened to the shape of their bodies.

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

I checked multiple websites 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 we feel difficulty we 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 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 doesn’t have to regret that they never started a corporation or wrote a book.  

Many people regret caring too much about what people think about them. Why should you? If someone doesn’t like you, simply get away from that person. Why would anyone want to be associated with a person who doesn’t like them? There are many people in this world to choose from and I’m sure there are many people who will like you.

Many people listed the concept of holding grudges as one of their biggest regrets. This is actually a pointless 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.

Working too much is a regret many people believe is their greatest regret. The question is, what is work? Most everyone works and enjoys what they do because they continue to do it. The worst 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 used to tell my students this when they became stressed because of all the things they must do. I would tell them to think how they would be if they had nothing to do and how they would feel. They would usually get this point.

Finally, let’s talk about stress. It is a known fact that stress will hurt you 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 different from what stresses you have 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 change is simply foolish.

There is another definition of regret, “a note politely declining an invitation.” I am going to write myself a note stating that I will never regret anything.