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If You Don’t Do These Now, You’ll Regret 10 Years Later

If You Don’t Do These Now, You’ll Regret 10 Years Later

When you’re nearing the summit of this turbulent climb through life, will you reach the top with wild enthusiasm or will you be hobbling with the aching knees of regret? You’ve climbed through storms, passed over green patches and had help from friends, and now it’s almost over. Your whole life has been leading you to this moment and one thing is certain: this final ascent we all have to do alone.

What thoughts will flash through your mind? You will be faced with tough questions such as: Did I do enough, love enough, was I happy?

You might leave these questions simmering on the back burner, thinking tomorrow will be a good day to contemplate the answers, but remember—tomorrow might not come!

So here’s what you can do today. Let’s call this an insurance policy for tomorrow’s happiness.

1.  Put your health and wellness above everything else

There is an old saying: “If you don’t have your health you have nothing,” and this is very true. Your body is housing your soul. Exercise, eat clean and get the proper rest. Take care of your body so that you have the opportunity to lead a long and full life. See 15 tips on restarting an exercise practice.

2.  Take the time to do the things you love

This may sound cliché, but work less and play more. You will never regret taking a vacation, engaging in a new hobby or spending a day with those who make you happy. But you might regret never taking that art class, reading that book or crossing big items off the bucket list. Be a participant in life.

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3.  Stop taking life so seriously

Why are you taking life so seriously anyway? Really? Find humor in something everyday, and laugh, laugh a lot!

4.  Always say what you need to say

If you love someone, tell them. If someone hurt you, tell them. If you have trouble expressing your feelings, then write a letter. Make sure those around you know each and every day how you feel.

5.  Open up your mind to possibilities

If you look in your garage and see a coiled, dark shadow that resembles a snake, your reaction might be to jump with fear, but later when you look closer and realize it’s just a green hose, you might feel silly for believing the tricks of your mind. Stop being controlled by your deluded projections.

Change your perspective and open yourself up to a new world of exciting and fulfilling possibilities. Look at your life with fresh eyes and you’ll find improved relationships, more excitement, and less resentments, anger and bitterness.

6.  Follow your own path—live a life true to you

Stop comparing yourself to others and stop striving for perfection. Life is not a masquerade ball—take off the mask, be yourself! If people don’t like it, then maybe it’s time to find a new party. Doing or being any other way will leave you feeling lonely, depressed and hopeless. Stop living a life based on the expectations of others.

7.  Stop living in the past

Right now you need to throw away regrets of the past. It’s gone, there is no point dwelling on what could of been, doing so will only rob the present moment of joy. 

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The past doesn’t exist except as a memory, it’s a mental story and it can’t be changed. Why not tell the story of your past in a way that enhances your present moment and future.

8.  Accept the things you cannot change

 “If a problem is fixable, if a situation is such that you can do something about it, then there is no need to worry. If it’s not fixable, then there is no help in worrying.” — The Dalai Lama

When you fight against reality, you get bloody in a battle of what ifs and denial. Whether your reality is that you should have married someone else, said something you needed to say, or are dealing with an illness, the reality is you can’t change any these things. Dwelling or worrying is only robbing your present moment of all joy.

What you can do is re-evaluate your life now and take the necessary steps to make the appropriate changes. Follow your instincts, they will tell you when you have veered off the path of where you should be, whether it be your relationship or career. Tune into your inner compass it will guide you in the right direction.

Take “what if”, “should have” and “why me” out of your story. Move on.

9.  Practice mindful living

Mindful living will in fact slow down time; it will enhance the present moment and fill otherwise mundane days with awe and joy.

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Ten years from now you might think, Where did my life go? When we live mindfully we immerse ourselves in moments. These are the moments that make up our lives. If you don’t practice mindfulness you run the risk of having these precious moments of your life lost to a string of foggy over-thinking. Rest in the spaces in between the major events, these spaces are your life.

“Mindfulness means paying attention in a particular way; on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgmentally.” — Jon Kabat-Zinn

10.  Stop chasing money, fame, and possessions

We crave wealth, prestige, fame and popularity, we crave material things and beautiful people. We mistakenly think that happiness is going to arrive when we meet these goals. Instead of enjoying our life, we are in a constant pursuit of something other than where we are right now.

At the end of your life, your expensive BMW will not be what’s flashing through your mind. You will more likely smile at the memory of your loyal dog. Stop chasing material possessions, there is no real happiness there, only an endless pursuit.

11.  Always practice gratitude

“Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity.  It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a  friend.” — Melody Beattie

Gratitude improves health, happiness, spirituality, connection, relationships, self-worth and simply gives life intense meaning.

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Even if your life isn’t perfect—and here’s a secret, it never will be perfect—you still have a lot to be grateful for. So every day remember to take the time to smile, laugh and truly say thanks for all the small and big joys in your life.

12.  Love

This is an excerpt by the famous Martha Beck that has made an enormous impact on my life. It sums up regret beautifully:

“So the ultimate lesson of regret, the one that will help guide you into a rich and satisfying future, is this: Every time life brings you to a crossroads, from the tiniest to the most immense, go toward love, not away from fear. Think of every choice in terms of “What would thrill and delight me?” rather than “What will keep my fear—or the events, people, and things I fear—at bay?”

Pay attention to all of the sources of love in your life and you’ll develop a growing sense of abundance of how much beauty surrounds you each day.

So let’s summarize: A cheat sheet to living without regrets

  • Take care of your health
  • Make time to do the things you love, work less, laugh and play
  • Say what you need to say
  • Practice mindfulness
  • Change your perspective
  • Let go of the past
  • Accept the things you can not change
  • Stop thinking happiness is a future event
  • Stop chasing money and material wealth
  • Live authentically
  • Take off the mask
  • Follow your instincts
  • Practice gratitude
  • Don’t make your decisions based on fear
  • Love, love love!

There is no guarantee that you won’t make any bad decisions, but when you start living your life with these tools in mind, your days will naturally become meaningful. Your wise eyes will be full of adventure and tales: adventures that might not be perfect, but at the very least won’t be filled with regrets.

More by this author

Tina Williamson

Writer and creator of Mindfulmazing

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Last Updated on September 18, 2020

13 Helping Points When Things Don’t Go Your Way

13 Helping Points When Things Don’t Go Your Way

For the original article by Celestine: 13 Helping Points When Things Don’t Go Your Way

“We all have problems. The way we solve them is what makes us different.” ~Unknown

“It’s not stress that kills us, it is our reaction to it.” – Hans Selye

Have you ever experienced moments when things just don’t go your way? For example, losing your keys, accidentally spilling your drink, waking up late, missing your buses/trains, forgetting to bring your things, and so on?

You’re not alone. All of us, myself included, experience times when things don’t go as we expect.

Here is my guide on how to deal with daily setbacks.

1. Take a step back and evaluate

When something bad happens, take a step back and evaluate the situation. Some questions to ask yourself:

  1. What is the problem?
  2. Are you the only person facing this problem in the world today?
  3. How does this problem look like at an individual level? A national level? On a global scale?
  4. What’s the worst possible thing that can happen to you as a result of this?
  5. How is it going to impact your life in the next 1 year? 5 years? 10 years?

Doing this exercise is not to undermine the problem or disclaiming responsibility, but to consider different perspectives, so you can adopt the best approach for it. Most problems we encounter daily may seem like huge issues when they crop up, but most, if not all, don’t have much impact in our life beyond that day.

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2. Vent if you have to, but don’t linger on the problem

If you feel very frustrated and need to let off some steam, go ahead and do that. Talk to a friend, complain, crib about it, or scream at the top of your lungs if it makes you happy.

At the same time, don’t get caught up with venting. While venting may temporarily relieve yourself, it’s not going to solve the problem ultimately. You don’t want to be an energy vampire.

Vent if there’s a need to, but do it for 15 to 20 minutes. Then move on.

3. Realize there are others out there facing this too

Even though the situation may be frustrating, you’re not alone. Remember there are almost 7 billion people in the world today, and chances are that other people have faced the same thing before too. Knowing it’s not just you helps you to get out of a self-victimizing mindset.

4. Process your thoughts/emotions

Process your thoughts/emotions with any of the four methods:

  1. Journal. Write your unhappiness in a private diary or in your blog. It doesn’t have to be formal at all – it can be a brain dump on rough paper or new word document. Delete after you are done.
  2. Audio taping. Record yourself as you talk out what’s on your mind. Tools include tape recorder, your PC (Audacity is a freeware for recording/editing audio) and your mobile (most mobiles today have audio recording functions). You can even use your voice mail for this. Just talking helps you to gain awareness of your emotions. After recording, play back and listen to what you said. You might find it quite revealing.
  3. Meditation. At its simplest form, meditation is just sitting/lying still and observing your reality as it is – including your thoughts and emotions. Some think that it involves some complex mambo-jumbo, but it doesn’t.
  4. Talking to someone. Talking about it with someone helps you work through the issue. It also gets you an alternate viewpoint and consider it from a different angle.

5. Acknowledge your thoughts

Don’t resist your thoughts, but acknowledge them. This includes both positive and negative thoughts.

By acknowledging, I mean recognizing these thoughts exist. So if say, you have a thought that says, “Wow, I’m so stupid!”, acknowledge that. If you have a thought that says, “I can’t believe this is happening to me again”, acknowledge that as well.

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Know that acknowledging the thoughts doesn’t mean you agree with them. It’s simply recognizing the existence of said thoughts so that you can stop resisting yourself and focus on the situation on hand.

6. Give yourself a break

If you’re very stressed out by the situation, and the problem is not time sensitive, then give yourself a break. Take a walk, listen to some music, watch a movie, or get some sleep. When you’re done, you should feel a lot more revitalized to deal with the situation.

7. Uncover what you’re really upset about

A lot of times, the anger we feel isn’t about the world. You may start off feeling angry at someone or something, but at the depth of it, it’s anger toward yourself.

Uncover the root of your anger. I have written a five part anger management series on how to permanently overcome anger.

After that, ask yourself: How can you improve the situation? Go to Step #9, where you define your actionable steps. Our anger comes from not having control on the situation. Sitting there and feeling infuriated is not going to change the situation. The more action we take, the more we will regain control over the situation, the better we will feel.

8. See this as an obstacle to be overcome

As Helen Keller once said,

“Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experiences of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, vision cleared, ambition inspired and success achieved.”

Whatever you’re facing right now, see it as an obstacle to be overcome. In every worthy endeavor, there’ll always be countless obstacles that emerge along the way. These obstacles are what separate the people who make it, and those who don’t. If you’re able to push through and overcome them, you’ll emerge a stronger person than before. It’ll be harder for anything to get you down in the future.

9. Analyze the situation – Focus on actionable steps

In every setback, there are going to be things that can’t be reversed since they have already occurred. You want to focus on things that can still be changed (salvageable) vs. things that have already happened and can’t be changed. The only time the situation changes is when you take steps to improve it. Rather than cry over spilt milk, work through your situation:

  1. What’s the situation?
  2. What’s stressing you about this situation?
  3. What are the next steps that’ll help you resolve them?
  4. Take action on your next steps!

After you have identified your next steps, act on them. The key here is to focus on the actionable steps, not the inactionable steps. It’s about regaining control over the situation through direct action.

10. Identify how it occurred (so it won’t occur again next time)

A lot of times we react to our problems. The problem occurs, and we try to make the best out of what has happened within the context. While developing a healthy coping mechanism is important (which is what the other helping points are on), it’s also equally important, if not more, to understand how the problem arose. This way, you can work on preventing it from taking place next time, vs. dealing reactively with it.

Most of us probably think the problem is outside of our control, but reality is most of the times it’s fully preventable. It’s just a matter of how much responsibility you take over the problem.

For example, for someone who can’t get a cab for work in the morning, he/she may see the problem as a lack of cabs in the country, or bad luck. However, if you trace to the root of the problem, it’s probably more to do with (a) Having unrealistic expectations of the length of time to get a cab. He/she should budget more time for waiting for a cab next time. (b) Oversleeping, because he/she was too tired from working late the previous day. He/she should allocate enough time for rest next time. He/she should also pick up better time management skills, so as to finish work in lesser time.

11. Realize the situation can be a lot worse

No matter how bad the situation is, it can always be much worse. A plus point vs. negative point analysis will help you realize that.

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12. Do your best, but don’t kill yourself over it

No matter how bad your situation may seem, do your best, but don’t kill yourself over it. Life is too beautiful to worry so much over daily issues. Take a step back (#1), give yourself a break if you need to (#6), and do what you can within your means (#9). Everything else will unfold accordingly. Worrying too much about the outcome isn’t going to change things or make your life any better.

13. Pick out the learning points from the encounter

There’s something to learn from every encounter. What have you learned from this situation? What lessons have you taken away?

After you identify your learning points, think about how you’re going to apply them moving forward. With this, you’ve clearly gained something from this encounter. You’ve walked away a stronger, wiser, better person, with more life lessons to draw from in the future.

Get the manifesto version of this article: [Manifesto] What To Do When Things Don’t Go Your Way

Featured photo credit: Alice Donovan Rouse via unsplash.com

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