5 Lessons on Living a Life Without Regret

no-regretsI’ve always wondered what I would regret on my death bed. Would it be something I said, something I didn’t say? It’s kind of a morbid curiosity, I suppose, but I obsess over the unknown. I’m like a moth to the light. It’s the perfectionist in me.

Since I’m not fond of the unknown, I like to plan. I’m meticulous in my planning, even if it’s something simple like a grocery store trip. So when I can’t really plan something or determine the outcome, I definitely am not excited to do it. I find myself holding back more than I find myself taking risks. What I am coming to realize is those moments where I held back will probably become my regrets.

The other day my husband and I were at the mall. We went to Starbucks and were waiting for his drink when a lady behind us commented on how sweet my husband was being to me. To his credit, this wasn’t a rarity, it’s how he always is. The woman’s name was Judy, and we found out that this this youthful, energetic, fun woman was pushing 73. From the glow on her face and energy in her voice, that was very hard to believe. She had been married 40 years, had no children and was working at a cosmetics counter in Macy’s just to have the chance to interact with people.

In just a few short minutes, here are the 5 life lessons we learned from Judy on living a life without regret.

1. Don’t Second Guess Yourself

Judy and her husband didn’t have children. She told us that was her choice. Even though I have a baby girl, I used to wonder if I’d ever have kids and if I didn’t if I would regret it. I feel this way about a lot of things, whether it’s something I did or something I didn’t do. What I saw in Judy was pure confidence that she had made the right decision in not having children. Although it’s a huge decision she owned it. She chose to spend her life becoming a mother to the people around her and giving back to her community. She didn’t let it become a regret. She made the decision and never second guessed herself.

2. When in Doubt, Push Forward, Don’t Hold Back

The quote from Judy that’s still ringing in my ears is “Take it from me, the only time we’ve had regrets in life is when we’ve held back, not when we’ve pushed forward.” How can you argue with that logic? Whenever we hold back, we always have that disturbing thought, “what if”? When we push forward despite our biggest fears, we’re often met with surprise successes or new opportunities. Even when our best plans fail, we can always take comfort that we tried.

3. Happiness is Your Best Friend

Think about one of your happiest days. Try to remember the way you felt. I know on my happiest days I felt impenetrable. It felt like all my decisions had led me perfectly to that moment and whether they were bad or good, I needed them to get where I was at that exact time. I felt confident in who I was, where I was going and my future. I felt grounded. That feeling permeates Judy’s life. It just exudes from her in the most captivating way. My husband and I had to believe that’s why she’s 72 but looks 40.  How can you have regrets when you’re truly happy in the present?

4. Act in the Moment 

At 72, most people are retired. So why isn’t Judy? She likes to interact with people. When she sees people she wants to talk to she just does it. She doesn’t over think it or hesitate. She sees the opportunity and acts on it. This is a small example in the grand scheme of things, but it can be applied to life as a whole. We need to act in the moment fearlessly. When we see a chance to say yes, we should. After all, don’t we miss 100 percent of the shots we don’t take?

5. Believe Everything Happens for a Reason 

My husband and I were getting coffee. We didn’t have any grand expectations for the outing, but then we met Judy. She smiled and said that everything happens for a reason. From the smallest of happenings to the largest, we would do well to remember this advice. When things go wrong, we can take comfort in the fact that it’s just a small piece of a bigger picture that we can’t see yet. When things go right, we can smile and know that everything is working out just as it should. The more often we can do this, the less regrets we’ll have. We’ll believe in the cosmic good of the universe, we’ll have faith that everything will turn out okay and we’ll know that even our biggest risks will bring us to the best places we’ve ever been. So for the Judy in all of us, let’s live life without regrets. Let’s risk everything for the hope of a better tomorrow. Let’s believe that everything happens for a reason.


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