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How to live with no regrets


This is a guest post by Daniel Offer. Daniel manages an interesting Facebook application called Emoinstaller. Emoinstaller allows you to add extra Facebook emoticons as well as Facebook smileys to your Facebook chat experience in just a couple of clicks.

Do you tend to beat yourself up by bringing past personal mistakes or shortfalls into the present? Do you tend to live with a lot of regrets or wish you could have a do-over in life?

If so, you aren’t alone. Most people have experienced embarrassing moments and have made a few mistakes along the way—it’s part of life. Unfortunately, it’s easy for thoughts of past negative experiences to pop into a person’s mind when they least expect it which can cause havoc for living successfully in the present.

While reliving past mistakes can seem like a form of penance, rehearsing regrets will never repair things or help you feel better. Constantly re-living bad experiences can chip away at self-confidence and undermine new risk taking opportunities.

When less than perfect things happen in your life, you can choose to either dwell on them or let them go. There’s a lesson to be learned in every experience, good or bad.

Since going back in time or having a do-over isn’t an option, you’d might as well learn the lessons and move on. You’ll be mentally healthier and emotionally happier if you do.

How to Let Go of Regrets

Since you can’t change the past, try to let go of it and the corresponding regrets with these tools:

• As soon as feelings of regret and self-doubt appear dismiss them, unless there is something within your power to repair a situation.

• Don’t base what you do today on mistakes of yesterday.

• Don’t treasure hunt through your past, or anyone else’s, looking for problems.

• Don’t use your past as an excuse.

• Forgive people. Every person is a product of his own past that has little to do with you. Don’t get wounded by another person’s stuff.

• Give up habits that aren’t serving you well.

• Stay away from toxic people such as those who are still reliving the past and attempting to bring you into it.

How to move forward

Everyone has the opportunity to start fresh every single day. If you are committed to stop living in regret and to begin living a fresh life, consider your answers to these questions:

• How will you say no to things you should say no to, and yes to new adventures?

• What habits need to be broken?

• What negatives might crop up in the future and how are you prepared to deal with them?

• What or who might you need to let go of?

• Who do you need to forgive?

Choosing to change your thought processes and habits makes a positive difference.

New Steps to Take

Picture the life you want to have. How will it be different starting today? How can you make today more meaningful so that you don’t regret missed opportunities tomorrow?

Here are a few ideas to consider:

• Appreciate your job and the people therein more, or make a leap for the job you’d rather have.

• Clean up your language and temper.

• Close the office door and take a vacation without a cell phone or laptop.

• Entertain more.

• Exercise more often.

• Hug family members frequently.

• Invest in a personal hobby.

• Participate in charities, church events or say yes to other invitations instead of isolating.

• Say kind words to your family members and others.

• Spend more time with your spouse and family.

• Stop complaining or criticizing. Adopt a happy spirit.

• Visit extended family more.

You can’t have a do-over in life, but you can try to live your best life now. Let go of regrets. Be a guardian of your own life by saying no to events or people that might cause you to have future regrets.

Be intentional about carving out important habits now so that at the end of your life you won’t look back in regret. Be confident of your choices and decide that if you do make a mistake, embarrass yourself or have something else go wrong that you will learn from the experience and pick yourself back up.

That is how to live a life with no regrets.

Any thoughts on this post? Please share.

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{ 30 comments… read them below or add one }

Dan June 27, 2011 at 2:02 pm

We all have regrets. But, as you point out, we can’t let them set our focus of today. Usually, regrets are just opportunities in disguise, learning from them and moving forward to live a more productive and happy life is sound advice.

Positive attitude, positive thinking, hard work, that’s the ticket!


Christopher Foster June 29, 2011 at 8:49 am

Great thoughts Dan. I love what you say about regrets being just “opportunities in disguise” for the most part. Thanks for commenting.


Debbie @ Happy Maker June 28, 2011 at 5:28 pm

Nice post. Regrets are learning experience. I like this one, “Don’t base what you do today on mistakes of yesterday.” This could bring to a stand still. You are very right Daniel.
Thank you for the post you have some great tips in leaving the past behind and moving forward.


Christopher Foster June 29, 2011 at 8:53 am

Thanks Debbie. Always a real pleasure to share your thoughts and your positive spirit. Blessings to you too.


Ken Wert June 29, 2011 at 4:28 am

We will all make mistakes. Lots of them! I agree with Debbie, the previous commenter, that such mistakes are just life’s teaching moments, opportunties to learn and grow.

The best way to live without regret, given our many imperfections, is to learn to interpret them differently, as the lessons just mentioned. But still, there is another way to live with fewer regrets:

Make good decisions today. Live life now as though today was your last day, or the only one that counted. Live life today to its fullest. Live today with passion and meaning, rising to the highest that is in us.

While we won’t be able to sustain such a standard, as we stumble imperfectly through life, there will be much less about our lives that is regretable if we aim daily at such a target.


Christopher Foster June 29, 2011 at 8:56 am

Thank you Ken. So happy to see you here again. I absolutely love what you say about living today to its fullest and “rising to the highest that is in us.” There is a rallying cry here that is surely the very basis for any true and lasting happiness. Take care friend.


King Author June 29, 2011 at 5:42 pm

The best way to live with no regrets is to realize, that everything happens for a reason. And if you start to take life lightly, then you will truly understand that life is something beautiful. Something that deals with smiles, laughs, kisses and hugs. Live in the moment, have no regrets and life will smile at you, just make sure you smile back…


Christopher Foster July 2, 2011 at 6:25 pm

Just beautiful Jonathan. Yes, if we take life lightly, and let lightness into our heart truly life will smile at us and it is a smile that is completely infectious isn’t it? Who could help but smile right back?


The Vizier July 1, 2011 at 12:26 am

Hi Daniel,

Regrets are truly a hindrance to living a fulfilling life. It can cripple us as we remain stuck in the past when all the other parties involved have already moved on. Worse still, due to our unique perception of events, what is an important regret to us may not even register the same level of importance with others.

That said, I love you tips you have listed to let go of regrets and move forward. Forgiveness of others and ourselves is vital to letting go of regrets.

I also find that it helps to consider the big picture. Regrets can cause us to focus too intently on details and as a result, we miss the big picture. In the larger scheme of things, what might seem like a huge regret is really inconsequential. It is a matter of seeing things in perspective. If that fails, then we should do all we can to resolve the regret we have. This helps to channel the energy spent on regrets purposefully. If there is nothing left to do, then why do we hold on? It would be best to let go.

Thank you for writing this article Daniel and thank you for sharing it Christopher! 🙂

Irving the Vizier


Christopher Foster July 2, 2011 at 6:19 pm

Thanks as always for your very helpful insights Irving. I particularly like what you say about considering the big picture. Not always easy to do — or is it? We are so much more boundless and unlimited than we think.


Barbara July 1, 2011 at 5:24 pm

I have a special friend, my partner, who cannot let go of past regrets, hurts. They have controlled his whole life. There are siblings whose whereabouts are unknown. Over and over he will speak of these when the subject arises in some way. It has prevented him from becoming a part of my family, who welcomes him in many ways.

I learned the hard way, not to try and change things… I just feel so sorry for the lost energy, time lost, and memories never to be repaired.


Barbara July 2, 2011 at 11:58 am

I need to add about my friend and partner… that it is he who taught me how to laugh again. It is he, who taught me how to enjoy the simple things in life. I wish I could help him step over the past and reach out… so he could have his family again, but perhaps that is not meant to be.


Christopher Foster July 2, 2011 at 6:16 pm

Thank you for sharing Barbara. That is a hard lesson to learn, yes, not to try and change things. But I have found in my own experience that everything goes much better — and sometimes true miracles happen — when I “give up” and simply trust. Even if the only miracle is that I am at peace at last.


庞志民 September 24, 2011 at 9:45 pm

I am Chinese. I am glad to see this article . You have written something that lies in most of our hearts. It’s true that dwelling in the past just makes situation worse. We all know this , but most of us can’t carry it out . So, we should try to conquer this weakness and make our life meaningful and colourful.


Christopher Foster September 25, 2011 at 6:11 pm

Thanks so much for your comment. I really appreciate your taking the time to write, and since I love your country and it’s remarkable history and wisdom over so many ages, I’m very happy to connect with you. Best wishes to you.


Rengasamy Sivachidambaram February 6, 2012 at 9:18 am

Thanks so much for your tips on how to live without regrets. The past is dead. It happened. Can we change what happened? We have to learn lessons from what happened and move on without regrets not repeating the same mistakes in future. Let us live this moment fully. LET US BE HERE AND NOW. LET US THINK THAT WE ARE BORN TODAY. It is the attitude that matters. Change in attitude would change our life. Let us delete our regrets from our inbox.


Christopher Foster February 6, 2012 at 10:07 am

Thanks Rengasamy, it’s a real pleasure to hear from you. I absollutely love your suggestion to “delete our regrets from our inbox.” Puts it all in a very simple perspecive, doesn’t it? I wish you happiness and joy Rengasamy. Take care.


Judy Belmont March 2, 2012 at 6:03 pm

This is so amazing that I read this great post now as just a couple days ago I had a post published for http://www.lifehack.org called, “There’s no do-overs … but there are second chances!” I stumbled upon your site and really love it so will be back to learn more!
Thanks, Judy Belmont


Christopher Foster March 3, 2012 at 7:40 pm

It’s lovely to hear from you Judy. Congratulations on your post for lifehack. Very happy to share this blogging journey with you. Sounds like we’re on the same wavelength, don’t it?


vicki April 7, 2012 at 2:10 pm

Thanks for your advise.I know better,but since my dear husband died last summer,I keep regretting things I should have done and said to help him more. I was his care giver while he was ill and it’s easy to go over things I could have done better,like realizing earlier what was going on .


Judy Belmont April 7, 2012 at 10:53 pm

Vicki – Sorry for your loss. “Survivor Guilt” is so common and I hope you work on forgiving yourself for being human and not having the benefit of hindsight. We are all works in progress. Judy


veronica wambui April 12, 2012 at 11:21 pm

Thanx for sharing and showing the way, like you indicate its never too late to change. I love this and will continue reading your blog as a way forward.


How Can I Be Happy April 18, 2013 at 1:54 am

Clearing regret has played the biggest part in turning my life around. If we all worked on this the world would be better.


tom December 12, 2013 at 6:00 am

this is a wonderful post , thank u so much for this article


marck johnson March 21, 2014 at 6:46 pm

Big Thanx for sharing and showing the way, like you indicate its never too late to change. I love this and will continue reading your blog as a way forward.


marck johnson March 22, 2014 at 3:37 pm

tanks a lot for this post


maria shispren March 22, 2014 at 3:42 pm

tank’s a lot for this post , this is wonderfull
maria shispren recently posted..the Best Laptops in the world


Christopher Foster April 5, 2014 at 9:56 am

Thanks for your kind comment, Maria, I’m very happy to hear from you. So sorry for the delay in responding.


Maxine Wright Walters December 17, 2014 at 10:29 pm

Great piece. The past is always behind us. We are the ones who always turn around and revisit it. If we remind ourselves not to turn around or go back we will be able to live in the present and enjoy our best lives.
Maxine Wright Walters recently posted..Relationship Garden


Christopher Foster December 29, 2014 at 1:10 pm

It is great to hear from you Maxine. I’m so sorry for the long delay in response. I hope you had a wonderful Christmas and wish you all the very best for 2015. Blessings.


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