Book Reaction: ‘The Power of Regret’

I think we’ve all heard these two words uttered from different people we’ve come across, and maybe even said them ourselves a few times when asked about the past: “no regrets”. Why does this seem to be said so often? I think it’s human nature to to try not to dwell on the past when something doesn’t go our way, when we do something we should not have done, or when we have been idle and did not act when we should have. What happens when we think about those events? We feel that regret, and that initial feeling can be rough. We don’t want to intentionally feel bad all the time, so a common response is to live the “no regrets” philosophy and look toward the future with a clean slate instead of living in the past. That being stated, is regret really all that bad? I recently read (audiobook version, hence the italicized font) The Power of Regret: How Looking Backward Moves Us Forward by Daniel H. Pink, and according to the author and research conducted, that answer is a resounding “no”.

The common concept that was brought up in the introduction of this post definitely makes sense on the surface. Why continue to think through tough situations from the past and continue to beat yourself up? Just accept things for what they are and move on, right? Well, this books suggests that isn’t always the best way to go and we should dig deeper into regret. Rather than just pushing regret to the side and setting sights on the present and a better future, the author and corresponding research suggests an alternative. Embrace regret to be used as a learning tool. Take the time to understand what went wrong and use that understanding to either make it right or know with confidence how to handle specific situations in the future. Now, with anything, balance is key. If all you do is continue to run through regret in your mind and feel the pain of it, you may not get the intended positive effects. When used with good intentions with the goal of growth, I definitely see how you can use regret to work in your favor.

I definitely recommend this book to get another perspective than what seems to be the common one on regret. I like the phrase another perspective here. That is what I really enjoy about books like this one. Books like this that shine some light on counter-arguments that may not be as common can be very enlightening and cause you to audit and analyze certain aspects of your own life. I’m all about growth in the different facets of my life, and this book gave me some useful takeaways and tools to continue to grow.

Published by Tim Bertino

Systems Architect passionate about solutions and design.

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