Regrets

For every little thing you hold on to,

You’ve got to let something else go

The Russian invasion in Ukraine has no doubt been at the forefront of all our minds in the last week and we’ll all have been emotionally and mentally affected by it in different ways. I’m sure we’re all feeling a profound sadness at the suffering of the individuals whose lives have been turned upside down in just a few days. Some will feel a deep sense of pride and marvel at the heroic resistance of Ukrainians and their leaders. And I know many across Europe will be scared by the proximity of this invasion, both geographically and politically. The threat – actual threats from Putin – of nuclear war has never felt so real in my lifetime.

That proximity has lead a deep feeling of “what if that were me?” Or “that COULD be me!” And as much as I am not wishing to make any light of a dark, dark situation, I do believe we can learn a lot about the fragility of life and use what we see in the news as in incentive to make positive changes in our own lives.

It’s tempting to go for a caution-to-the-wind, “let’s have lots of fun” approach. And there is an element of this. Do you often put off fun for another day? Do you save up your joys for special occasions? But I’m not hedonist or fatalist about it. This is not about indulging all of the most destructive, seemingly “fun” activities without paying any mind to the future. I take a very Epicurean view of prioritising pleasure in that I feel we should take a little more of a long view on it. 4 hours of drunken debauchery is not “prioritising pleasure” when it results in a 12 hour hangover (not to mention any other regrets we may have!).

But we can be too cautious, especially about our more long-term plans. So I’d like to invite you to have a think. If you like to journal or meditate, maybe you’d like to use these as a personal enquiry.

If the world as you know it ended tomorrow, what regrets would you have?

If there was an invasion into your country, what would you look back on? If a nuclear bomb went off and there was a 30 minute warning, what would go through your mind? Would you look back on your life with a sense of pride, joy or satisfaction? Or would you get a case of the “shoulda woulda couldas”?

If the world as you know it ended tomorrow, what regrets would you have?

This is not about the bucket list. Realistically, when faced with an unexpected end to life as you know it, it won’t be in your mind that you never got round to zip-lining in Costa Risa or bungee jumping in New Zealand. Think deeper. Feel deeper.

If the world as you know it ended tomorrow, what regrets would you have?

The last couple of years have been strange and caused plans to be put on hold, but are you still holding back? Or maybe there’s something you’ve been putting off for 5 years, 10 years, 20 years, 50 years. How long can you hold a dream in your head without taking any action towards it? How long are you willing to wait for some imaginary perfect scenario before you get married / start a business / change careers / learn a skill / write the book / volunteer in something that impassions you?

If the world as you know it ended tomorrow, what regrets would you have?

How often do you say, “I should have done that but…”, “I could have done that but…”, “I would have done that but…”? Either to yourself or to other people. When you really examine your excuses, are they genuine reasons or just excuses? Procrastinations? Do you automatically say no when someone wants your help or company, even when you know it will make you feel awesome to say yes?

If the world as you know it ended tomorrow, what regrets would you have?

How would you feel about the way you’ve treated people? Can you feel satisfied that you have made people feel valued, supported, loved? Do you have any lingering bad behaviour that you could easily apologise for? Have you learnt from it to become a better person? Have you told people how you love them, how you admire them. Are you a good presence in people’s lives?

The GOOD news is that the world is (probably) NOT ending tomorrow!

I’m not writing this to fill you with regrets. I’m inviting you to REFLECT, not to regret. We have to accept our present situation before we can make changes, but we can use these POTENTIAL regrets to help guide us.

Look to the situation in Ukraine as a reminder of the fragility of life. Use that sense of, “it could be me” to motivate you into action to reduce those potential regrets. Become the better person that you know you can be. Embark on a life where you feel truly satisfied. Learn the things you wanted to learn. Tell people that you love them.

We all have the potential to change the world. What are you waiting for?

(And yes, go and have more fun too!)

Lyric title from Shoulda Woulda Coulda by Beverley Knight, written by Beverley Knight, Craig Wiseman

Published by Finding Felicity

I am Felicity, a satisfaction expert, yoga teacher and reflexologist who is empowering disillusioned people to take ownership of their happiness, having learnt from my own experience of falling off the hedonic treadmill that happiness is far deeper than just pleasure. My personal journey of deconstructing and reconstructing my life through studies of neuroscience, psychology, philosophy and yoga, opened my eyes to the complexity of human emotions. Based in Lancashire and teaching online, I am passionate about passing that knowledge on to others who feel out of touch with themselves and are wondering, “is this it?” I'm obsessed with helping people to build and live a satisfied life we don’t need to escape from.

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