“Is it really so hard to tell a good action from a bad one? I think one usually knows right away or a moment afterward, in a horrid flash of regret.” ~Mary McCarthy
When it comes down to it, who we are is defined by the choices we make.
Personality type, intelligence, genes, and life circumstances all play a role in why we are where we are in life. But within these parameters, we have a myriad of choices available to us.
Some of those choices can enhance, override, or totally negate elements of the parameters. There’s a whole lot of power in choice — power for positive change and power for unpleasant outcomes.
Many of the choices and decisions we make in life, especially in our younger years, are made from ignorance, fear, or a lack of self-awareness. But time and experience teach us which choices and actions lead to regret and those that lead to happiness, fulfillment, and peace of mind.
In my half-century (+) of living, here are a few of the choices I’ve never regretted — choices that have contributed to my happiness, health, and overall peace of mind.
1. Express your real feelings even if you are scared or uncomfortable.
2. Cease trying to change the significant people in your life. Accept and love them as they are or move on.
3. Acknowledge mistakes and ask for forgiveness.
4. Talk to a counselor or coach when you can’t work it out yourself.
5. Give away the clothes you haven’t worn in the last year.
6. Stop gossiping about others.
7. Come home from work early to spend time with your family.
“At the end of your life, you will never regret not having passed one more test, not winning one more verdict or not closing one more deal. You will regret time not spent with a husband, a friend, a child, or a parent.” ~Barbara Bush
8. Do the thing you’ve been dreaming about for years.
9. Make exercise a non-negotiable part of your day.
10. Ask for what you need from your spouse or partner.
11. Give your spouse or partner what they need.
12. Learn a new skill every year.
13. Give a warm smile and a dollar to the homeless guy on the street (even if you aren’t sure how the dollar will be spent).
14. Let go of a relationship that is draining you or causing heartache.
15. Under-schedule rather than over-scheduling your life.
16. Learn to meditate and practice meditation regularly.
17. Go to bed earlier and get up earlier.
18. Tell the truth even when it is embarrassing or difficult.
19. Spend less time in front of the computer, television, or smart phone.
20. Say “I love you” every single day.
21. Let go of grudges and anger as quickly as possible. Be quick to forgive.
22. Take the job you love, even if it pays you less.
23. Be appropriately honest with your children at all times.
24. Spend less on material things so you can afford more experiences.
25. Make a decision, even when you aren’t sure, rather than languishing in uncertainty.
26. Take a stand for something you know is right, even if it’s unpopular.
27. Allow yourself to be silly, goofy, and carefree.
28. Care less about what others think of you.
29. Focus intently on the task or action at hand and savor it fully.
30. Take a few moments every day to acknowledge and reflect on the good in your life.
31. Say yes when you mean yes and no when you mean no.
32. Plan in advance for something fun to do on the weekend.
33. Spend within your means. Seek help to get out of debt.
“Regret for the things we did can be tempered by time; it is regret for the things we did not do that is inconsolable.” ~Sydney J. Harris
35. Become proficient with your computer.
36. Spend time with people in the generation behind you and learn from them.
37. Clean out the clutter and unnecessary stuff in your home.
38. Give up junk food and fast food, and eat more vegetables.
39. Say yes when someone needs your time, support, or a helping hand.
40. Make love even if you don’t feel like it at the moment you’re asked.
41. Step outside to look at a full moon, a shooting star, a rainbow, or a snowfall.
42. Play games with your family.
43. Offer praise to someone who deserves it, even when you feel jealous.
44. Do whatever you can to change anything you hate about your life. Exhaust all possibilities.
45. Don’t argue about politics or religion.
46. Take action in spite of fear.
47. Accept failure as a step in learning rather than an end result or life sentence.
48. Listen to your body and intuition as guides for changing behaviors or decisions.
49. Clean the dishes before you go to bed.
50. Drive carefully, calmly, and non-aggressively, even if it means you’ll be late.
51. Choose the funny movie over the violent one.
52. Learn to enjoy your own company.
53. If you have the choice to sit it out or dance, dance!
Are there choices in your life that you’ve never regretted? Or some that you regret and wish you could go back and change? Please share your thoughts in the comments.