I suspect I am not the only one who has wasted precious time and energy on past actions, or failure to act. Learning from our mistakes is valuable. Dwelling on our mistakes is making yet another mistake.
A missed opportunity is even easier to regret. It may have been the opportunity to stand up for our principles at a critical moment, and we were silent. It may have been turning down an opportunity that would have been a wonderful experience. If we spend any time at all in self reflection … we will recognize both of those moments in our lives.
I remember being 22 years-old, just arrived in London, and trying to find where I would be living for the summer. As I walked with my suitcase down a busy street along Victoria Rail Station, there was a crowd of a dozen people around a doorway. A pregnant women was crying as a man was using a broom handle to punch her in the stomach. I was horrified.
Every impulse in my body wanted to step between the man and the woman. But, I was afraid and alone in a strange country. Others stood around and did nothing. Who was I to step in? I walked on to my flat.
To this day, my choice to not act is painful to me. I am older and wiser. I now know that if one person in a crowd situation takes action, others would likely join in to protect the woman. I regret not acting more than I would have regretted being hospitalized after losing a street fight.
Many choices that we make are less dramatic calls to action. It may be listening to that voice inside that is calling us to an adventure, or feeling the need to defend someone in a meeting who is being unfairly criticized. Taking action, even if you fail, is likely to give you much less regret than never taking action.