While the ultimate dream is to live life with no regrets, this is often unrealistic. Whether big or small, we all have a regret or two. And according to new research, there is one particular thing most people will almost certainly feel regretful of when reflecting on their lives.
A study by psychologists at Cornell University has revealed that ‘failing our ideal selves’ is what we’ll all be kicking ourselves about in the future.
That’s right, forget about regretting what you have done – be it a drunken slur, going back to an ex or buying the dress you had your eye on in the wrong colour. Instead, you should be more concerned about the things you don’t do in life.
Tom Gilovich, the study’s lead author and professor of psychology, explained the theory, saying: ‘When we evaluate our lives, we think about whether we’re heading toward our ideal selves, becoming the person we’d like to be. Those are the regrets that are going to stick with you, because they are what you look at through the windshield of life.’
He continued: ‘The ‘ought’ regrets are potholes on the road. Those were problems, but now they’re behind you. To be sure, there are certain failures to live up to our ‘ought’ selves that are extremely painful and can haunt a person forever; so many great works of fiction draw upon precisely that fact.
‘But for most people those types of regrets are far outnumbered by the ways in which they fall short of their ideal selves.’
So there you have it, you quite literally owe it to yourself to make your dreams come true (pardon the cliché) – and that counts no matter how outrageous or unreachable they may seem to you now. If you don’t, then you only have a life filled with regret to look forward to and let’s face it, none of us want that.