Recently I spent a large part of a work day at my son’s athletics carnival. It was costly work-wise, but something happened following the carnival which opened my eyes to see that doing such things would help me avoid regret in my life.
Someone asked if I had any children. A rich conversation about our families led him to say, “We had a good up-bringing because my dad worked hard and earned a good living. But I never saw him. I regret that I don’t really know him now and don’t have much of a connection with him.” He was experiencing regret, and at some point (perhaps when work is removed from the centre of his life) his dad will too.
Had his dad seen the importance of time with his son this chain of regret would have been averted. This made me realise how much things like being at my son’s carnival matter, and doing things that matter help us avoid regret in life.
We feel “regret” when we wish we could have the time again, or feel sorry and grieved for the loss of something because of what we did or failed to do. Things that matter help us avoid these feelings because they will never leave us with a sense of loss.
People on their deathbed are never sorry for spending time with people they love or investing themselves in things which truly improve the world. They never feel that relationships with others or pursuing the presence of God was a waste of their life. They never regret the experiences in life which brought their souls alive – like taking in a sunset over Uluru or helping someone in need. In hindsight they treasure having spent time at their child’s athletics carnival.
We avoid regret in life by choosing now to do things that really matter. Beyond the obvious things, if you want to find what really matters to the human soul consider reading the teachings of Jesus in the Bible – he was a Master at making this clear.