The Atlantic Monthly has a piece online about a study in the Journal of Consumer Research that indicates, “regret over indulgence and gluttony diminishes with time, but regret over missing out—doing the responsible thing and deferring gratification—only increases.”
Researchers look at two ways people approach life – the idea of enjoy it now and pay for it later, and the idea of giving up immediate gratification for future benefit.
Apparently the guilt we may feel for overeating or overspending or over-fillintheblanking is intense. But, we’re fickle, and it’s fleeting. On the other hand, that wishing “if only I had” emotion comes on slower but stays much longer.
I believe this is what people mean when they say they regret the things they didn’t do more than the ones they did.
I’ve always believed my elders on this matter and been a very much “live in the moment” person. I don’t have any regret over anything I’ve done, and none for any missed opportunities either.
I’m sure some of my escapades in my wilder days would shock many people who see me in the mode of chamber breakfasts and afternoon teas. It just goes to show that people are multi-faceted – some of us more than others, perhaps.
At least I think people are multi-faceted. I hope so. I hope the other people I see at chamber breakfasts have, at some point, done something more exciting than this. I hope so. I really hope so.
Everyone should have some things worthy of regret in their past, maybe in their present. It doesn’t mean you have to engage in the useless exercise of regret. But, everyone should do something “shocking” on a regular basis.
Of course, “shocking” is in the eye of the beholder. I just think I’m living my life until I’m telling someone about something and watching their eyes grow wide and their mouths drop open. My friend, Leah, is the ultimate in this regard. She jokes that I’ve given her more gray hair than her children. Maybe she’s not joking.
I think I’m due for something shocking. Maybe overdue. Maybe you are, too. “Shocking” in a good way, of course, just that way that gets the blood going, the adrenalin pumping – raises the excitement level of your life a bit.
However, I said shocking – not stupid – drive sober, practice safe sex, and don’t mess with any potentially instantly-addictive substance or activity.