Today, as usual for everyday, I received an email from ProjectHappiness.org. I signed up for an email service in which I will receive a daily message related to living a better life.
This morning, as I opened my mailbox, I saw this message:
If you could write a note to your younger self, what would you say in only two words?
This answer to this question is a straightforward one for me for I’ve already thought about it a while back.
It is my personal belief that the number the regrets that one has is directly proportional to the degree of his/her lack of courage.
Put it another way: the less courage you have, the more regrets you’ll garnered throughout your life.
People experience regrets in many different ways. You can be in pain and crying, you can be reminiscencing in the sweet memories or you can be going through all the different scenarios that could have played out had you made a different choice. Whatever the form, one thing is constant:
When you live in regret, part of your present is stuck in a period of your past.
Think about it like this: “Regret” is like Doctor Strange putting you through the same situation over and over again. You know that something is not right but because you are an actor in this timeloop, you can never really see it happening.
Me being me, I tried to do a Root-Cause Analysis (RCA) on my life once I realised that I am in this time loop and have to get out in order to move on with my life.
What I did is, I tried to recall all the pains that I’ve had as far back in my life as I can. From being bullied in kindergarten, to feeling inferior on the badminton court when I’m slightly older because other kids were using professional level rackets (Carbonexes and Isometrics) and I’m still on wooden $2 rackets, to never confessing to the first girl I liked in secondary school, to losing my first love when I’m in the military to losing my last.
Doubtless, these events led me to where I am and who I am today. For example, if I hadn’t felt inferior in sports, I wouldn’t have taken sanctuary in the world of books; if I hadn’t lost my first gf, I wouldn’t have seek a friend in my diary and begun a life-long habit of writing (I have been writing a diary for the last 18 years.)
But you see, as I kept thinking, I realised that the “What-Ifs” remained a common theme. And “What-If” meant that at that point in time, I probably can do something about the situation. Or I could have done something beforehand to prevent that event.
Of course, I recognised that there are many things that are not reasonably within my (or your) control, but for those that are, you will realise one thing:
Most of the time, regrets don’t come from making the wrong decision; It comes from taking the easy one, the one you are least fearful of.
Maya Angelou said it most aptly:
Courage is the most important of all the virtues because without courage, you can’t practice any other virtue consistently.
And remember what the Walt Disney said:
All our dreams can come true, if only we have the courage to pursue them.
One of my favourite quotes of all time, as I realised later to be the serenity prayer:
Grant me the SERENITY to accept things I cannot change, COURAGE to change the things I can, and WISDOM to know the difference.
I’ve missed out a lot in life. And for me, I know that it is not due to the lack of opportunities that I missed out on being a better person or a more fulfilling life. The result of my RCA tells me this: I have been lacking courage to take the path I would want to take for all those past regrets.
So if I could go back in the past to tell my younger self one thing, it will be this:
“Be brave to face whatever comes your way, for you will live in regret and pain if you don’t. Don’t try to escape or try to run away. If you love something or someone, hold on to them fiercely and never let go. You will face slashes and pain just to hold on to them, but endure the pain you will. For the greatest pain will come from letting go. Have faith and leave things to fate once you have done all you can and then some. Be brave. Be Courageous.”
And if it’s just 2 words: “Be Courageous”