So much of living well is focused on what we do, and so often we are reminded that the only regrets we will have are the things we do not do. In context, the latter is certainly correct as is the former as in order to build a life we enjoy living, we must be an active participant.
However, there are instances in which inaction is the best decision you will ever make. In other words, not choosing the following 10 things will be the best thing you can do to live a full life to be proud of upon reflection.
While some of the lessons below may become clear after we make the temporary mistake of considering them, or unfortunately partaking, my most significant aha moments have come the first time I heeded the advice below. The feeling you will have sometimes minutes, other times hours and even days after you do not take action is an ecstatic high of relief that is immeasurable.
Because when we choose not to send the angry email, refuse to be cynical about love and choose to keep striving forward instead of dwelling in the past, that is when the boss offers the compliment or the promotion, that is when an unexpected encounter takes place with an individual that you immediately are curious to know more about, and that is precisely when the doors that had remained closed begin to open.
Believe it or not, sometimes it is what we don’t do that makes a world of a difference on the overall quality of our lives. Yes, we must take the initiative, we must get our hands dirty when it comes to learning and trying new things, but sometimes the best thing is to exercise our willpower, take a deep breath and not do what we would most certainly regret later. Below are ten things you will not regret. In other words, don’t do the following, and in hindsight you will be full of ecstasy that you didn’t have to learn what not to do from experience.
Don’t . . .
1. Send the letter you wrote or the thoughts you considered sharing that were inspired by rash anger, hurt or frustration
“If you are patient in one moment of anger, you will escape a hundred days of sorrow.” —Chinese Proverb
While I would suggest writing the letter or airing your thoughts to yourself, let it end there. Journaling helps tremendously, writing the letter and then ripping it up does as well. Sometimes we just need to make sense of why we feel angry, hurt or upset because often we just feel a particular feeling spontaneously and we don’t take the time to reflect upon it. When we take the time to do so, we can discover our role in unconsciously creating the environment that has caused us pain, and move forward in a manner that is more productive to render a different outcome next time.
And even if we do come to recognize that we must speak to a particular person about an issue that is bothering us, when we do it from a place of contemplation and rationality rather than emotional upheaval, we are able to speak with composure, clarity and reach a far better outcome that we won’t regret.
2. Eat/drink the entire box/carton/bottle (unless it’s water)
Now this may sound obvious, but sometimes giving ourselves a simple rule even on our worst of days keeps us from making an obviously bad decision.
3. Give up on your dream
“It’s not what your are, it’s what you don’t become that hurts.” —Oscar Levant
As the world keeps progressing, new paths toward success and contentment materialize. Individuals find avenues no one ever knew existed or thought would be possible. There in lies the hope to always hang onto even when your dreams seem completely dashed. The first test of dashed dreams is to determine how badly you want what you seek; the second is to see how creative you can be.
There is no doubt your journey will be different than others, so refuse to believe that your dream is not possible. I do not know that, you do not know that, thus the world cannot possibly know that either.
4. Hang on to people who don’t love you, don’t respect you, or don’t want to see your beautiful self
When we are young, it is hard to have perspective involving the future that lays before us. It is hard to believe that more significant, beautiful opportunities and people will cross our paths so long as we keep striving forward, but they will. Therefore, as you journey on your path, let go without regret of any of the individuals listed above. After all, when you let go of what is not working, what is holding you back or holding you down, you give yourself the space to expand, grow and welcome new individuals into your life.
5. Turn away from an enticing opportunity just because you don’t know how it will work out
“Regret of neglected opportunity is the worst hell that a living soul can inhabit.” —Rafael Sabatini
If we knew how everything in life would work out, the decision making would be easy, but we don’t, so it isn’t. Decision-making, especially when it comes to what we care most deeply about is hard when we don’t know how it will unfold. And while other opportunities will come along, each opportunity you pass up that truly grabs your attention, passion and curiosity, is to let go of a growth moment. A moment of boosting your realization of what you are capable of, of realizing what the world is capable of offering you if only you had the courage to try.
6. Assume everyone is smarter than you or conversely, you are smarter than everyone
I have a feeling you default to one or the other more often. I certainly know which one I used to default to commonly, and it immediately established how I would speak or present myself. Needless to say, when you see others behave in a manner that indicates they are assuming one or the other, it is off putting. Either it is their lack of confidence and insecurity that is a turn off or it is their arrogance that is off putting. Neither are a good idea and will not serve anybody well.
Instead, no matter what company you may be keeping, listen, speak less and when you do, be aware of your audience as you have had some time to observe and get to know them. In so doing, you are not trying to assess who is smarter than whom, but rather determine how you can contribute or what you may be able to learn that you didn’t already know.
7. Forget to wear sunscreen
For an entire host of reasons protect yourself from the sun. First, find sunscreen that covers as promised (these two were recently highly recommended by Consumer Reports as well as being the two I use daily when I am exposed in any way to the sun: La Roche Posay and Coppertone WaterBabies); then remember to wear it even if the sun is hiding behind the clouds.
8. Live in the past
If we use our past to try to predict the future, we limit the quality of life we can build for ourselves. Whether positive or negative, our past did happen, and we lived through it. Yes, we are a product of our past, but our past does not predict the future that will unfold before us. However, if we only assume based on what we know, the beauty that is waiting to be trusted, appreciated and noticed will never be unearthed, at least not by us.
Make peace with your past, decide what worked and what didn’t and devise a path to move forward, stepping out of the defaults that no longer serve you and trusting that you will successfully navigate the unknowns.
9. Compare your journey to another
Celebrate rather than compete. Applaud rather than criticize. Whenever we choose to compare we are doing so ignorantly. We cannot know the full story behind the other individuals of which we are placing our lives beside, and likewise, they cannot know ours. Therefore, be inspired, become aware and choose to stay in your lane, focused on your priorities, appreciating the scenery of others’ lives as you or they pass by and enjoy the journey.
10. Stop believing in the power and magic of love
First of all, believing in love begins within you. Begin to cultivate a life you love living, begin giving love in forms of how you live your life – your actions, your attitude, your strength to continue to find hope even in the most frustrating times – because life behaves very much like a boomerang. What we give out, will in some form or fashion return to us. We may not know when or how, we may not even realize it immediately when it does return, but it does – the good and the not so good. So why not continue to put good out into the world? Why not examine your life and see what is working and is fueled by love and what isn’t? What not release what isn’t? Why not then become more available to slowly letting down the walls? Why not take a risk? Why not have hope but not expectation? Because when we have expectation and something doesn’t occur when we think it should, we get in our own way. But when we have hope, the timeline is blank but we are allowing ourselves to be receptive so that when it arrives, we will be fully present and appreciative.
Love is indeed magical. Love is truly capable of the unexpected and perhaps even the impossible. So do yourself a beautiful favor and refuse to stop believing.
I wanted to end on the last one because in many ways it is an active choice to continue to believe, hope and have faith. And I think with each of these “don’ts”, is an undercurrent of these three concepts. Because by choosing not to do something, we are shifting to the understanding that temporary relief, or perceived relief, will not be as gratifying or fulfilling as the effect of taking a step back and choosing more wisely.
The good news is each one of these “don’t”s, if we continue to walk away from them, will eventually become a habit and we will no longer need to remember and will be living a more beautiful and enriching life because of what we didn’t do every single day.
SIMILAR POSTS FROM THE PAST YOU MIGHT ENJOY: