A friend of mine recently sent me Daniel Pink’s latest book, The Power of Regret: How Looking Backward Moves Us Forward. (Thanks, Chris.)
While I haven’t fully read this book yet, it seems like the perfect next sequence after the series of being afflicted, perplexed, persecuted, and struck down.
Four Core Regrets
Let’s take a look at the Four Core Regrets that Pink identifies:
Foundational regrets begin with an irresistible lure and end with inexorable logic.
At the heart of all boldness regrets is the thwarted possibility of growth. The failure to become the person—happier, braver, more evolved—one could have been. The failure to accomplish a few important goals within the limited span of a single life.
Deceit. Infidelity. Theft. Betrayal. Sacrilege. Sometimes the moral regrets people submitted to the surveys read like the production notes for a Ten Commandments training video.
What gives our lives significance and satisfaction are meaningful relationships. But when those relationships come apart, whether by intent or inattention, what stands in the way of bringing them back together are feelings of awkwardness. We fear that we’ll botch our efforts to reconnect, that we’ll make intended recipients even more uncomfortable. Yet these concerns are almost always misplaced.
Unavoidable Foundation Regrets
We start with the foundational regrets. Like the issues identified in Paul’s letter to the people of Corinth in the last several blogs, these seem to be unavoidable. I believe I am an honorable person with good intent. But as I look back over my life, the first thing that comes to mind is my many regrets. I am reminded of regrets in each of the four core regrets identified by Pink.
- Irresistible Lure. Irresistible means impossible. Have you been drawn to something that just seems irresistible? Fortunate for me, immoral things haven’t been irresistible. However, two material things have seemed irresistible to me. One is a nice car. I’m not talking about super-expressive cars but I am talking about the top-of-the-line American cars. I decided with my first new car in 1969 that I was not going to resist a new car every three years. Both of my daughters and sons-in-law find that rather extravagant because they are into decent used cars.
My other irresistible lure has been nice watches. I think it was because my father bought my first new all-electric watch for my high school graduation. I’ve been in love with nice watches ever since.
- Inexorable Logic. The word inexorable means impossible to stop or prevent. I have been a very logical person all my life. I can convince myself of almost anything. The logic of my own reasoning becomes so strong and sound that it becomes almost impossible to resist or deny. Unlike automobiles where I made the illogical decision to lease a new car every three years (knowing it is illogical), I talk myself into the new watch with pure logic (or at least I think so).
My regrets tend to be more materialistic. But I know that some people deal with immoral issues. Like the new car in my case, I openly admit that a new car every three years doesn’t make sense. But if you reached an immoral decision and don’t openly admit it as being immoral, then it tends toward the evil side of human behavior. You know that it’s immoral but you decide to do it anyway.
For those issues where you’re convinced in your mind (through logic or ignorance), you need that trusted friend who is capable of saying to you, “You know that’s wrong, don’t you?”
Dealing with Foundational Regrets
Don’t be evil. The world knows it, and more importantly, you know it. Evil will eat at your character and humaneness. Evil will become one of the more painful things in your life.
Don’t let your bad logic overcome your wisdom. You need that trusted friend who will say, “You know what you’re doing is wrong and unwise.” Listen to them. Examine yourself and your motives. Allow them to be that trusted friend you need.