“The Power of Regret” by Daniel H. Pink

By making us feel worse today, regret helps us do better tomorrow. Daniel H. Pink, The Power of Regret

In the brand new book The Power of Regret: How Looking Backward Moves Us Forward author Daniel H. Pink gives readers the results of major worldwide and American surveys on life regret—“the ultimate If Only.”

And, as Pink has stated in the past, most people do have regrets of some kind. “The only people without regrets are people who have brain damage, people who are sociopaths, and people who have neurodegenerative diseases. The rest of us have regrets” (Atlassian).

Pink concludes we have four core regrets (courtesy of Kirkus Reviews):

  • foundation (failure to be responsible in financial, educational, or health matters)
  • boldness (forgone opportunities)
  • moral (the temptation to behave poorly)
  • connection (unrealized potential relationship)

Further elaboration from Kirkus:

Examples include a woman who regrets not climbing into her ill husband’s hospital bed on the night of his death; a Saudi Arabian businesswoman who laments a tendency to downplay her intelligence and inventiveness ‘to please/not upset others’; and a man who, 60 years later, still mourns not taking a college classmate up on the opportunity to join the 1964 Freedom Summer project.

But regret isn’t to be regretted, so to speak. Publishers Weekly:

Regret ‘clarifies. It instructs. Done right, it needn’t drag us down,’ writes Pink…Rather than despairing over regrets, Pink urges readers to think of them as opportunities for growth and learning, and offers a program for doing so. First, one should acknowledge the regret to ‘reduce some of its burden,’ then grant oneself ‘the same… understanding [they’d] offer another,’ and finally, create some distance by talking about it in the third person, which can turn it into a lesson.

Brené Brown, Ph.D.: “I love that Daniel Pink is taking on one of the best (and toughest) teachers in my life—regret. I’ve always known that regret deepened my connection to myself and to others, but now, thanks to Dan’s research and storytelling, I understand why.  The idea of ‘no regrets’ doesn’t mean living with courage. It means living without reflection. The world needs this book and more reflection. Now.”

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