Why the Concept of “Regrets” is Kind of Bull Shit

I’ve been thinking a lot about regrets lately. Actually, I’ve always thought a lot about regrets. I’m one of those people that will be lying in bed trying to fall asleep and suddenly think…

“Wow, that one thing I said to that person whose name I don’t remember 12 years ago was so idiotic and I never should have opened my stupid mouth.” Uh, what?!

Regret is a funny thing. So much of our life and the decisions in it are driven by this little idea that one day we might think that this decision or lack of decision was a huge mistake and we’ll feel stupid or sorry for it.

Or, in most cases of people who fear regret, we will be crippled by this choice we did or didn’t make. Forever haunted by this huge thing we either screwed up or missed out on in our life… and can never take back or make right.

How self-deprecating is that?!

 Some fearless locals bridge diving in Porto, Portugal

Some fearless locals bridge diving in Porto, Portugal

I’ve spent way too many hours mulling over decisions or obsessing about poor choices I’ve made. Wishing I could change things that already happened. Or wishing I would’ve gone left when I swerved right. Brainstorming ways I could undue a bad judgement call or press the backspace on certain periods in my life, and just start over knowing what I know now.

But lately the more I think about regret, the more I think it’s just absolute utter bull shit.

In recent months, I’ve decided to pay attention to how many of my thoughts were driven by the idea that I might one day regret something.

It’s amazing how much I think about it while traveling. “I should really go to this museum/historical site/city that is near me that I wasn’t planning to visit. If I don’t I might regret it later, especially if I never end up coming back here.” But, why?! Especially if it’s only something I think I should do and not something I truly want to do.

For a concept that probably pops into our heads on a daily basis, how many times in your life have you made a choice that today completely haunts your thoughts as being that absolute derailment in your life, or that one chance you had to have the life you always wanted but you stupidly took a difference path?

For me, none. I have made exactly 0 choices that I thought were life “deal breakers.”

I’ve never once, not even close to once, screwed up so bad that I thought…

“Well, that’s it. This life is fucked.”

 My first destination after quitting my job - a small village in Italy called Gerano where no one spoke English

My first destination after quitting my job - a small village in Italy called Gerano where no one spoke English

So… WHY is it that so much of our lives are driven by a fear that has a pretty much, statistically speaking, 0% chance of happening?

(Well, except for maybe that guy Ron Wayne who in 1976 sold his Apple shares for $800 that are now worth a mere $35 billion. But guess what? Even THAT GUY says he has no regrets. Seriously.)

I also thought a lot about this concept when I decided to quit my job, build my own company and travel. The people who thought I was making a rash decision often talked about “regret.” Hey, I even thought about regret. A lot.

What if your business fails? Will you regret leaving NYC? What about giving up your job, what if you can’t get a new one if you do decide to go back to work? Will your friends forget about you? Will you hate it?

Guess what? If any of these fears come true, no one will die. The earth won’t fall off its axis. I have family that won’t let me go hungry if my business fails and I crawl home with my tail between my legs before I had planned to.

So why the hell would I pass up a potentially life-changing experience because I might just regret it. There’s a zero chance that I actually will regret it, based on historical research on, well… my life and everyone else's.

Tell me this. Would you let a doctor operate on you that has had 0% successful surgeries? Or participate in an activity that has a 0% survival rate?

So why would we even consider a concept that has a 0% chance of actually coming true?