Last week we talked about how to overcome regret. This week we’ll talk about how to live afterwards. In fact this is about how to implement those lessons and live an awesome life.
Now, instead of orderly steps I’m offering you a buffet of ideas. You can cherry-pick them as you see fit.
Falling in love with the here and now
Yes, you can consciously fall in love. Do you remember when you fell in love for the first time? You could only see the positive aspects of this person. You were appreciative of it all. You had no problem finding wonderful traits to that person.
Take the regret of being a parent. Make lists of the new awesome qualities that you have been granted with this transformation: ability to deal with uncertainty, enhanced intuition, compassion, patience and sense of humor.
Re-frame the dark side of parenting with appreciation. Imagine that your child misbehaves, shouts, or says the most awful word: NO. Think, What is there to love in this? Wow! This is big, isn’t it. How could we love a misbehaving child? By just asking this question you change your perception completely. You can feel compassion for him. You can even feel compassion for yourself.
Let me give you some answers to this question:
- he’s misbehaving because he’s growing, he has yet to learn;
- he shouts, because I’m not listening. What is he actually trying to tell me? What is the message behind that shout?
- He says NO, because this is the word that has been hearing so often. He can learn something new. Or is it possible that he’s brilliant at setting his boundaries? Is it possible that you need to learn to say NO?
No let’s think of a different regret example: career choice. You’ve spent 20 years in a career you dislike – you know I was there. Do exactly the same. Make endless lists of positive aspects: I learned to think logically, it gave me the opportunity to travel around the world, it allowed me to meet many awesome people….
The more do this, you’ll be able to tune to amazing distinctions that will make your life vibrant and actually perfect. You’ll be in love with every minute of your life and most importantly with yourself.
If you can fix it, fix it
No matter which kind of regret we are talking about you can always fix it. As long as you are alive you have the chance to lead a remarkable life.
I know that to let go of a 20 year old career sound deadly scary, but what about the prospect of never doing it? Think about the wise words of the Buddha: the best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago; the second best time to do so is now.
Crying for all the time you wasted not doing something in your youth adds more time to you not doing it. Start right now. Do you want to dance, to cook, to write, to travel? Do it.
Start small. Start as a hobby. Allow your passion to grow. Before you know it, it will become your profession.
My passion has always been public speaking. My sister jokes that I have an integrated microphone. As you know my first career choice took me away from my passion. When I realized that, I simply started going to Toastmasters. It was simply my hobby. It’s not an exaggeration that it changed my life. After winning several club contests and training hundreds of people, I dared to speak for the first time outside the club and the rest is history. Now I live of my passion.
Other fixable regret is not having said “I love you” and “Sorry” when it was needed. Then years passed and regret emerges. The same words of the Buddha apply here: do it now. Pick up the phone. Send a letter. Do it now. Don’t even think about it. Success loves speed.
If you cannot fix it, embrace it
You might be thinking, what about the things that I cannot fix. I cannot stop being a parent. I cannot revive the departed. I cannot be a child again. The only path to “fix” this kind of regret is to embrace it. You fix this regret by thinking:
how can I make it perfect, have fun and learn from this?
Years ago my favorite aunt passed away. She died in Mexico and I was here in the Netherlands. No-one told me, but just until I visited next. My first reaction was anger towards my family for not telling me. Then I was consumed by regret. I was not able to say goodbye. So I used this secret weapon: how can I make it perfect, have fun and learn from this?” I sat down quietly to remember all those wonderful moments with her: when I as a 2 year old ate her breakfast, when I as a 10 year old taught her English, all the conversations at the kitchen table, all the love. So I realized we lived a life of great love, that was way more valuable than a last goodbye. Appreciation made it perfect, fun and very educational.
When you ask this question you are able to envision perfection as an integral part of your reality. I use this technique often and not just for regret: My kid spills orange juice on the table, the customer doesn’t pay on time, I got a parking ticket. I cannot undo those events. I can welcome all these situations into my reality as opportunities to learn, grow and expand.
Invent a signature life that makes you proud
So, what happened happened, now what? Now it’s time to create a brand new life. Consider: Who do you want to be? With what I know now, who would I want to become now? What kind of life do I want to have?
Imagine how is that person you long to become. What does he/she eat? Which shoes does he/she wears? What does she/he reads?
Who do you want to be?
Create a vision of the person who lives a regret free life. See her. See him. Talk with him/her. Do it often. Do it when you are doubting. Consider: what would my ideal me do or say in this circumstance.
This idea emerged during the preparation of the Christmas dinner at my son’s school. We were asked to contribute with a snack. So I thought it should be healthy: gluten free, dairy free, and organic. And it should also be festive. And it should be home made. It should be easy to do. It should be easy to eat for those little hands. It should. It should. It should. When my list of “should’s” smothered me. The genesis of question popped up in my mind: What am I doing? I’m trying to be perfect. Who am I trying to impress? I don’t want to live this way. I don’t want to torture myself with the judgments of the rest of the word.
So, who do I want to be? How do I want to live my life? The answer emerged as a revelation. I want to be happy. Since I choose to be happy, I don’t care about all those things I said before, whatever I was going to take to that dinner SHOULD be made/bought in high spirits. I took a deep breath and asked again, what would my higher-self do? She would enjoy the experience no matter if it was to follow an old recipe, a new recipe or simply buy something readily made. The process and outcome were insignificant. The feeling was everything. Happiness was and is everything.
Happiness is a choice. You will be exactly as happy as you decide to be. Your suffering will cease when you finally love what you have and stop longing for what you don’t have. Looking into the lack gap make us all miserable. Bring your attention to what you do have and the wonders that it brings you.
Great insights without action are useless. You must put your lessons into action. Think carefully: What are you going to do now?
Share your answer with us in the comments. For all those we choose to do so, I got a mega cool gift. This is the exercise to define your perfect day. When you are able to see your perfect day, you are able to see what new things you choose to do and what you need to let go of.
So, just pop in your answer to “With what you now know, what are you going to do now?” in the comments and you’ll get this valuable exercise.
Wishing you a wonderful festive season.
Be the light,