A life without remorse may not be worth living

June 22, 2013

Many times, I have heard people say that they have “no regrets.”

This week, Kanye West joined the ranks of those who apparently have lived perfect lives when he did an interview with the New York Times. Seems to me, this guy should have plenty of regrets.

One of Kanye’s most famous stunts was when he bounded onstage at the MTV Video Music Awards and sullied Taylor Swift’s moment of glory by snatching the microphone and saying that it was Beyonce who deserved the award.

Kanye has learned no humility in the years since. When asked if his instinct had led him astray in that highly criticized attention-grab, he said: “It’s only led me to complete awesomeness at all times. It’s only led me to awesome truth and awesomeness. Beauty, truth, awesomeness. That’s all it is.”

Well, that’s just awesome, Kanye.

I don’t trust anyone who says they have no regrets. Anyone who truly feels no remorse over anything is a seriously disturbed individual, in my book.

Regrets are things we can learn from as we move forward in life. They show that we have a conscience and they can lead to soul searching and character building. Show me a person with no regrets, and I’ll show you … well, Kanye.

Me, I have plenty of things to feel remorseful about. I regret not keeping up with my childhood best friend, Annette, not going to law school and the time years ago that I made a joke that hurt a co-worker’s feelings.

I regret the time I was doing a lunch interview and forgot to leave a tip.

I regret the times I have intentionally cut into traffic backed up on South Morgan Street.

I most definitely regret the time I got a perm. Trust me, it was not beauty and awesomeness.

In a story for Psychology Today back in 2010, Todd B. Kashdan, a clinical psychologist and professor of psychology at George Mason University, wrote about regrets. We learn and grow from them, he said.

“To feel regret, you have to recognize the consequences of what you did or didn’t do,” Kashdan wrote. “You need to be introspective and patient to know whether an action not taken was a poor choice…

“Without regrets, you are done evolving, you will be ineffective at coping with an uncertain, unpredictable world where mistakes are inevitable.”

That’s a nice way to put my screw-ups. I’m evolving.

A website called tiny buddha lists 40 things that we can do to avoid a life without regrets. Here’s a few of them:

Realize that it’s okay to make mistakes.

Follow your own path.

Be adventurous by trying new things and taking more risks.

Try to find happiness with as many different people as you can.

Think for yourself instead of letting other people’s opinions influence you too much.

Try not to judge people before you get to know them.

Be thankful for what you have now instead of thinking about what you don’t have.

Wish well upon everyone equally and try to admire without envy.

Control negative thoughts so that they don’t contribute to the outcome of your life.

Use your energy wisely because spending energy complaining, worrying or being impatient is just wasted energy.

Be bold. Find the courage to change things that should be changed and accept that there are some things that cannot be changed.

Love your work. If you don’t currently love what you do, figure out what you would love, and take the first step toward that life.

Turn your discontent into a mystery and enjoy trying to solve it.

Treat people with respect and compassion.

Do something every day that makes you feel proud of yourself – commit random acts of kindness whenever you get the chance.

I imagine if we could all manage to live our lives according to these principles, then we would truly know beauty and truth and awesomeness. I’m not sure that Kanye ever will.

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