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The utter pointlessness of regret

Ozoneocean at 12:00AM, Dec. 28, 2018

As the year comes to a close we look to the future of the new year ahead, but we can also sometimes get fixated on the past… Regrets can creep in. “What if?”, “If I'd only…”, “I only JUST missed out…”, “It could have all been so different…”
Regret stems from the idea that if only you'd done something else, made another choice or tried harder, then things would have been different: that you wouldn't have missed out on all those wonderful opportunities and glorious experiences. “I SHOULD have taken that chance when it was offered… Why didn't I?”
Webcomicrs, like everyone else experience this.

The truth is that regrets are all based on pure fantasy. They're a twisted opiate who's sole purpose is to induce depression by lulling us into thinking about the past. They feed you pure make-believe. In reality there are very, very few instances where ONE decision, missed opportunity, or misread signal could have changed anything at all ever.

You can follow up opportunities as hard as you possibly can, read all the signals, invest time, money and energy, take that gamble, take all the risks, follow through with everything you have, and things can STILL not work out. That happens all the time. It's the default setting of the universe. Missed opportunities are NOTHING, they are literally nothing.
Treasure things that DO work out and make the best of bad situations because you can't live with regrets about things that were never going to happen anyway.

For example: You regret not reading the signals from some hot person who was interested in you… But even if you DID read them right, were they REALLY interested anyway? And what about all the rest of it? The false fantasy of regret imagines a perfect streamlined path into bed with them or maybe even a relationship but the reality is that it's all hard work and a lot of luck and the right circumstances coming together. There's NOT just a single “missed opportunity” that could have gone either way (like in all those stupid movies), there are hundreds of things that all have to go the right way for things to work out. And the more people who are involved in that the more complex it becomes till you have millions of things that have to go right, that you aren't even aware of, for you to get to some ideal objective- i.e. some big project, family gathering, party, collaborative comic etc.

Even the idea that there are parallel universes based on alternative choices is a myth. It's a literary conceit that comes from an exaggeration of fringe quantum physics theories. Alternative worlds based on regret ONLY exist on our minds.

Do not think mull over regrets, rather you should laugh at your mind's feeble attempts to get you down with its fantasy imaginings of perfectly running alternative worlds where different choices just magically lead to perfect outcomes. Real life is not a role playing game with multiple choices, moving ahead is the ONLY direction available to you.




Ozoneocean at 9:26PM, Dec. 29, 2018

Thanks Jaymon! That's exactly my point! :D

Ozoneocean at 9:26PM, Dec. 29, 2018

@Bravo- at a cultural level it's fine and fun, at a personal level though they can be dangerous and damaging more than they can be useful.

JaymonRising at 11:26AM, Dec. 28, 2018

Good article, ozoneocean. To be honest from 2013 - 2016 I too was someone who blindingly traded my ambition for common decency when I failed at trying to make it up to someone else for ruining their life throughout the first half and ruined it anyway throughout the second. Call it fear of karma (which happened anyway, and it was worse than anything I could ever imagine) or me trying to hold on to my dated ways. It's just as V from V for Vendetta would say "I wish there'd been an easier way but there wasn't", moving on is just a hard pill to swallow, and the road to recovery is not only slippery, but on thin ice (to the point you can see the cracks).

bravo1102 at 10:09AM, Dec. 28, 2018

By the way regrets over paths not taken can make for great story seeds. Speculation as a tool for creation not obsession leading to depression.

bravo1102 at 10:06AM, Dec. 28, 2018

Well there goes the whole counter factual genre as well as pastime of historians the world over. ;) :D Can't ask "what if?" Or express disappointment over paths not taken? Speculation is one thing, obsession is quite another. "Shoulda, woulda, coulda" might have changed things but there would be new challenges so it could have been different but any less difficult. I've led a life full of regret, but living in an eternal present is one way to escape that. The past is history, the future a mystery, but the world gives you a gift and that is the present.

Ozoneocean at 7:22AM, Dec. 28, 2018

No worries Avart! I know how much those things can get you down. It's just the mind playing tricks on you.

Avart at 6:35AM, Dec. 28, 2018

Thank you for this article Oz, you say exactly the words I need to hear. Thumbs up!!

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