Well, we all make mistakes, dear, so just put it behind you. We should regret our mistakes and learn from them, but never carry them forward into the future with us.” Lucy M. Montgomery, Anne of Avonlea
Regret feels like such a negative word, implying we’ve made bad decisions. It’s easy to take that negativity into the future with us, causing us to feel hopeless or depressed because we cannot change the past. However, acknowledging regret and choosing to learn from it can turn any negative situation into a positive. Begin by writing down any big regrets you have that you feel are keeping you from moving forward in life. Then, any time you come to the end of a day and feel like you have any new regrets, write them down, no matter how small or simple: things like not spending enough time with people you love, being unkind to someone, spending too much time watching television or too much time on social media, eating too much of an unhealthy food, or not working out. Whatever it is that you regret, write it down. Now, without dwelling on the negativity of these lists, choose to do something about them by turning your regret lists into to-do lists for tomorrow or the next week. Maybe you see the same thing on your regret list three times in one week. Instead of feeling guilty about it, you can now feel hopeful because it’s on your to-do list the next week. When you slow down and focus on the things that matter, and make yourself do the things you wish you had done yesterday, you will feel the success lifting those burdens of regret away. As for the things you absolutely cannot better, ask for forgiveness from anyone you have hurt, forgive yourself, and let yourself leave those mistakes in the past. Whatever has happened in the past, whether by your choice or somebody else’s, has you on a path that you cannot change. The sooner you find purpose in the place you are, the sooner you will be at peace with where you are.
Taking the mistakes and the regrets that you have from yesterday and turning them into an active list for tomorrow, you can change the person you are into the person you want to be. You don’t have to settle for unhealthy, and you don’t have to settle for unhappy. Happiness isn’t one single choice, but comes after a series of good choices have been made, and at the very least, you can look at yourself and be proud of your small accomplishments, proud of your small results, and proud of the self-discipline it took to get you there.