From Could Have Beens To Should Have Beens – The Science Of Regret

2개월 전

“Of all the words of mice and men, the saddest are, "It might have been.”
― Kurt Vonnegut


The human mind is a dangerous toy to play with. Like a toddler left unattended, he can fuck shit up real quick. Regret is one of the too many side effects that comes with this bad boy that is our mind. Switching from fantasy mode to destruction mode is what it knows best. The road to hell is paved with regrets, to that one I’m sure your sneaky little brain can attest.

Often times when people get asked the question "what is your biggest regret in life? " , I’ve noticed that many answer with some version of " I don’t have any. Because we shouldn’t regret anything in life as at one point it was exactly what we wanted/needed/ and so on and on. " On a surface level, this makes sense. But on a deeper level, I ain’t buying it. Why?

Because we’re all professionals at justifying the fuck out of our every move/decision/mistake we have done in our lives, whether we like to admit it or not. That’s just part of the package deal that comes with being a human. Our minds are like police officers – they won’t let us get away with anything. Until we lie our way into it and create a narrative in the hopes of finding some sense to what intrinsically doesn’t have any.

Regret comes in two waves. The first one is the regret of Action. I like to believe this one is easier to surf. Because from a psychological standpoint, there ain’t that much you can do "mentally" to take away the thing(s) that you’ve done in the past that you regret today. It’s happened, the deal has been sealed baby, so you can’t go back and change it, no matter how badly you wish you could get a refund and start over.

On the other hand, the 2nd wave of regret a.k.a the regret of Inaction, is a much bigger one and one that can takes us 500 feet under water if we let it. Why? Because its supply is endless. Its data is limitless. We can regret not having done something for a lifetime if we wanted to (and many of us do).

What stings our fragile hearts the most is the fact that all of these "what ifs? " will remain forever unanswered. Because we simply didn’t do them. And that’s a hard fucking pill to swallow. Call us the pill popping society, but the pill of regret, that’s one we wish we didn’t have to shove down our dry throats. Like heroin, it’s a slow killer.

The problem gets worse because by nature we’re unsatisfied little beasts. As I always say, just take a look at Adam and Eve. Even heaven on earth isn’t all that our minds make it up to be. Our tendency for always wanting more fucks us up a lot of the time. You’ve got a loving marriage. Healthy and happy kidoos. Fulfilling careers. And still, your mind wanders to places you’d think it shouldn’t wander to. But you can’t help yourself. "Would I be any happier today had I married my high school sweetheart instead? " And down the rabbit hole of regrets you go.

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