The Power of Regret: How Looking Backward Moves Us Forward

The author Daniel Pink is someone I genuinely respect. I have loved his books (When and Drive are some of my favorites). But, when I saw the title of his new book, The Power of Regret: How Looking Backward Moves Us Forward, being promoted, I was completely taken back. The Power of Regret...really? I thought we had been told repeatedly not to live with regrets? I was intrigued, and I had to dig in.

Everybody has regrets. They are a universal and healthy part of being human. And according to Pink, understanding how regret works can help us make smarter decisions, perform better at work and school, and bring greater meaning to our lives. Drawing on research in social psychology, neuroscience, and biology, he debunks the myth of the "no regrets" philosophy of life. He lays out the four core regrets that each of us has. The four core regrets are:

  • Foundation regrets: our failure to be responsible, conscientious, or prudent. Our lives need some basic level of stability.
  • Boldness regrets: A stable platform for our lives is necessary but insufficient. We are much more likely to regret the chances we didn't take than the chances we did.
  • Moral regrets: Most of us want to be good people, yet we often face choices that tempt us to take the low road. When we behave poorly or compromise our belief in our own goodness, regret can build and then persist.
  • Connection regrets: Connection regrets arise anytime we neglect the people who help establish our sense of wholeness. We feel an abiding loss when those relationships fray, disappear or never develop.

There are so many insights in this book, but the key takeaway for me is that regret is not meant to be ruminated on and lived in, but if we can zoom out and gaze upon our situation as detached observers, we can use these compelling insights to create a better path forward.

Check it out here.


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