Reflection on Life: Wise People Have No Regrets

Guan Ming

PureInsight | February 3, 2008

[] It is
annoying if a person who plays chess often regrets his moves. Whether
it's Go or chess, therefore, no changing of moves is allowed for a
player at any formal competition. Musashi Miyamoto, the most famous
swordsman in Japanese history said: "I never regret what I did." This
is an attitude of being responsible for one's own actions and also an
open and optimistic way of facing issues in life. "Wise People Have No
Regrets" does not mean not reflecting on one's mistakes in the past;
instead, it means that one should not indulge oneself in regret for
past mistakes. The past has already passed, there is no time for regret
while time flies by like an arrow. The only thing one can do is to
learn lessons from the mistake and avoid repeating it in the future.

In the past, a famous psychiatrist who had many years of clinical
experience wrote a book on the treatment of mental diseases after he
retired. The book had a full thousand pages that describes the symptoms
of various conditions and the medical and psychological treatments for
each condition. One day, when he was invited to a university to give a
lecture, he brought out this thick book and said to the students, "this
book has more than one thousand pages that include over three thousand
treatments and over ten thousand medicines. However, all the content
can be summarized in three words." When he finished talking, he wrote
down "if, next time" on the black board.

The doctor explained that the factor that causes psychological
exhaustion and torture is nothing more than the word "if": "if I had
entered the university," "if I had not broken up with her," "if I could
have gotten a new job back then," "if I had not been that lazy back
then," and so on. There are thousands of ways to treat the problem, but
ultimately there is only one, that is to change "if" into "next time:"
"Next time I have a chance to learn," "next time I won't give up the
person I love," "next time I will work more diligently," and so on.

One's attitude towards life determines one's happiness, anger, sorrow
and joy. Past happenings aren't exactly like passing clouds and many
memories can easily make people regret. These regrets can seriously
affect one's quality of life and even cause mental problems. Confucius
said in "Lun Yu - Wei Zi": "The past can't be corrected but the future
can." These famous words say that things in the past can't be redone,
but the future can still be worked on. These words are a very
meaningful reminder when we deal with issues or reflect on our
accomplishments and mistakes in our lives. People should not always
regret or feel depressed for past mistakes, and learning lessons from
the mistakes can help avoid repeating them.

In our short lives, we don't need to feel regret when we've made
mistakes, because it won't change the reality and only adds negative
darkness to our future life, casting shadows on the beauty of life.
Just like crying after you fall down is useless, life shouldn't be
buried in regret. Getting up, starting again and doing the best you can
are actually the essence of a positive attitude towards life.

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