Regret is a silly waste of time, and that’s coming from someone who does it often. It’s very easy to dwell on our past mistakes and wish that we could have done things differently. But those are errors of the past, which we’re only able to regret with the benefit of hindsight. At that time and place, we didn’t have the knowledge and understanding that we end up obtaining afterward. We only regret an action once we’ve learned its consequence. And we only learn its consequence once we’ve committed the action. So what’s the point in worrying? We simply couldn’t have known any better at the time, so we did what we did within that limited framework. We only feel like we could have done more because we’ve learned more about it after the fact.
The best thing to do when looking back on lamentable actions is to learn from them. Now that we have a past experience that we can study and think about, we can derive lessons from it and apply them in the present and future. Our existence consists of continuous learning. Every moment that passes is one in which we learn or experience something new that we hadn’t known before. Thus, we will always do things we’ll regret, because we’ll always have situations where we couldn’t have known any better. There’s no set number of things to learn: there will always be something new to us for as long as we live.
In light of that, we shouldn’t bother wasting time feeling guilty about the inevitable. Just learn from it as best as you can, and adapt to the repercussions that you couldn’t have prepared for anyway. Obviously, this is easier said than done: after all, I’m still prone to wasting my time regretting things too. But I’m a lot better about it than I once was, and I’d like to think that’s because I’ve learned from past experience.
As always, feel free to share your thoughts and experiences on the matter. You won’t regret it (hopefully).