For some reason, I only appreciate the snow when I’m visiting it up North. It isn’t a hassle to put on layers, it doesn’t get in the way of me having to go somewhere and it’s therapeutic to watch through a window while holding a cup of hot chocolate that is equally heavy on the chocolate as it is the whip cream. And in my well nurtured delusional mind, the whip cream cancels out the calories of the chocolate and visa versa, so both are always necessary.
My brother from another mother and I decided to get bundled up and take a walk through the forest to observe the tree art designed by falling snow the night before. And like most of our walks, we ended up in a conversation that you can only have with someone who has known you for over 20 years. It began with an innocent question from him… do you have any regrets?
Simple enough question if it’s being applied to a single experience, fashion choice or if you are rethinking your food order at a restaurant; but without having to elaborate, I knew that he meant it as a retrospective on my life. Do I have any regrets?
I gave the question the pause for consideration it deserved before answering; after all, he knows me well enough to know whether I’m answering honestly or with forced sugar-coated optimism. And my answer was simply… no. Which was quickly followed by a laugh at my own bluntness.
Do I wish at some points in my life I had said ‘yes’ instead of ‘no’? Absolutely.
Do I wish at other points I was more courageous, fearless or daring? You betcha.
Are there situations I’m embarrassed over how I conducted myself? On going!
But regret? No.
I could take the easy cheesy approach and say that all of my decisions up until now have made me into who I am today, and although that’s true, it isn’t the reason for my assured answer. The truth of the matter is,
Regret helps me be brave.
After spending way too much head space examining the past and holding it against myself, I began seeing regret akin to driving a car that only moves in reverse and began recognizing the value in regret. Past actions, responses and replies are simply research into how I want to behave and react in the present. It’s how I’m learning to be ‘me’.
Brene Brown sums it up…
“No regrets” doesn’t mean living with courage, it means living without reflection. To live without regret is to believe you have nothing to learn, no amends to make, and no opportunity to be braver with your life.
It’s hard not to wonder what my life would look like if I zigged instead of zagged on a number of occasions, but every experience is another opportunity to reflect and grow, challenging me to be braver and more curious with each new adventure. I’ve discovered that often the most uncomfortable learning is the most powerful, and regret challenges me to take it all on with a lot more gusto.