Fonkou Djoendia

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What is your biggest regret so far?

I am a teenager. And I love asking questions. Especially to adults. And TED is a wonderful community filled with intelligent people! I think we learn more by asking questions. Please tell me, What is your biggest regret so far in life?

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    Jun 9 2012: Thinking of the past too much instead of focusing on the present. Live the moment.
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    Jun 7 2012: I regret all of the things I've said in my life that have hurt other people. Humans have a very difficult time expressing their feelings, and in that moment of anger, emotion, etc we tend to just blurt out whatever we are feeling. We all need to take very serious time to learn not to react and not take things personal. Allow others to express in a negative way, but don't respond that way. Take a deep breath, remember who you want to be... peaceful, loving etc... let some time pass, then address the issue. Nothing good ever comes from getting sucked into an argument or verbal battle, we just say dumb, hurtful things, that sometimes may always effect that person. Be kind hearted and speak in this moment as though what you are saying will have a life long effect, because it just might. Sorry Dad ! Sorry Michelle ! Apologies to everyone else I've hurt via my words.
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      Jun 7 2012: Very insightful discovery Cory:>)

      So, you have hurt yourself (regret) with your hurt to other people? I ask this because I believe that we are all interconnected. When we realize this, we have no desire to lash out at others, because we realize we are only hurting ourselves. When we are aware of the interconnections, we no longer experience the destructive cycle of lashing out, regret, more lashing out, more regret....etc.

      That's why I said it is a very insightful discovery on your part. Change the way we think....we change the way we feel...and it might change our life experience:>)
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      Jun 7 2012: That was very touching. It hit me. And helped me a lot. Thank you for sharing Cory, you are amazing.
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    Jun 9 2012: Giving up my interest of Art by listening to my father,choosing the major that I m not adept.
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    Jun 8 2012: Learning from mistake makes one to have regret free life.....I am in quest of that.......
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      Jun 11 2012: I don't think it is regret free, I think that it helps you come to terms with the regrets and let them go, but you cannot identify the mistake and the lesson to be learned if you don't experience regret about the situation in the first instance.

      When you truly work out how to do this let us all know. I'm trying to let go of my regrets as well, some successfully but others not so much. If you learn how to do that, then that is an idea truly worth spreading :-)
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        Jun 11 2012: Kylie,
        Living a life free of regret is very possible...I do it, and I am aware of many other people who experience a regret free life as well.

        My first comment on this thread:
        3 days ago: "Hi Fonkou,
        No regrets. As far as I am concerned, regret uses energy I can use in a more productive way. I try my best to learn and grow with each and every life experience, so there is nothing to regret:>)"

        How does it serve us, or anyone else to hold onto the feelings of regret? Of course we can identify the lesson without regret. That is exactly how to live a regret free life. If we spend our energy learning from the experience, there really is no room in the heart and mind for regret.

        When I was young, I sometimes held onto the feelings of frustration and regret because of certain experiences. As I matured, I realized that I learned something, and I decided to go directly to the learning, rather than holding onto fear based feelings/emotions.

        Ask yourself..."how does holding onto this feeling serve me or anyone else"? If you can answer that it does serve you in some way to hold onto regret, then carry on. If you answer that it does not serve you in any way, then let it go. Holding onto regret is a choice in each and every moment.
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        Jun 11 2012: Dear Kylie
        It depends on can say the moment one did mistake and understood that a mistake was done...right that moment s/he is not free from nobody is regret free all are right from that perspective and I am not going to debate on that. I took "Regret Free" as term which usually we use in a longerterm perspective....

        Colleen has shed some insightful light on it above......

        What I feel and observed also here from some practical examples (I admire those , some of which really heart breaking as well) we tend to even regret for something which is beyond our control....I am not saying that's bad ...rather it's a sign of great mind one can have......but regreting for things out our control drains out lot's of energy as what I wanted to tell consiouly I am trying to avoid.....that's why I wrote "Quest" didn't write "achieve"....

        Thanks for your thoughts which made me to reflect a bit more....have a good day.
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        Jun 11 2012: Kylie and Salim,
        Good point! Perhaps "regret free" is misleading. I was also looking at "regret" as a long term perspective, and something we do not need to hold onto for a long my perception.

        There is, as you both point out, a time when we may feel sorry about what we did or said, and in that respect we feel "regret" for a certain amount of time.

        In my perception and practice, as soon as I realize that I did or said something that was not useful, I immediately change the words, behaviors, apologize, or whatever is needed to change the situation to the best of my ability.
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    Jun 7 2012: One of my favorite quotes of all time:

    “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”

    - Mark Twain

    I believe we waste too much time with regret and guilt. Do your best to learn from your mistakes, but do not harbor them; do not insult the past version of you with hindsight. If we all had a crystal ball, we would ultimately come to regret our inability to be careless or to make mistakes.

    One of the best pieces of advice I ever received was from an art teacher in college who told me art was about "happy accidents." Embrace entropy. For although you cannot control your past, you can most definitely influence your future.
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      Jun 7 2012: So well said Brian:>)

      "In order to discover new lands, we have to be prepared to lose sight of the shore".

      Learn from the past and let go.....move forward into new experiences:>)
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    Jun 7 2012: Hi Fonkou,
    No regrets. As far as I am concerned, regret uses energy I can use in a more productive way. I try my best to learn and grow with each and every life experience, so there is nothing to regret:>)
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      Jun 7 2012: Thank you so much for your time Collen:)
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        Jun 7 2012: My pleasure Fonkou:>)
        I like asking questions and exploring thoughts, feelings, ideas and opinions too.
        I've asked myself this question before and I am interested in your thoughts.
        Do you percieve any benefit at all in spending energy on regret?
  • Jun 9 2012: Listening to my family & the church who told me I was worthless & stupid.
  • Jun 8 2012: not thinking twice
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      Jun 10 2012: This one is also (one of) my biggest regrets. And I always forget not only to do it so, but the fact that everytime I think twice of something, I always find new perspectives over the topic. Why it so difficult (for some of us) to revise the worthy ideas or the important decissions?
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    Jun 8 2012: Biggest regret - all those mornings I slept in What a terrible waste of peaceful consciousness raising time.
  • Jun 8 2012: Fonkou, this is a very good question.

    Fundamentally, I believe in striving to live by a simple mantra - to learn and to growth. That is, time offers the opportunity to make new discoveries (about yourself, others, the context or world around you, etc), the more we can tune into these opportunities - the better.

    For myself, so long as I hold to this there is no regret. There are only things I have learned/grown from in the past. Some might have been painful (or even very painful) lessons. But once the emotional intensity passes enough for me to gain perspective, I don't regret the experience. Instead, I push myself to *try* to learn and to grow from it. I then *try* to leverage this learning moving forward. (And don't always succeed, and that's ok too. But, for myself, giving up is not)

    I think what's important is to give yourself the freedom to fail (i.e., to take risks, chances), but not the freedom to fail to learn or to grow. The only mistake we can make is believing we can't or shouldn't make mistakes. The only failure we can make is the failure to learn (and thereby rob ourselves of the opportunity to leverage our experiences).

    Live. Learn. Grow. When we do these things while loving and being fair to ourselves, regret is fleeting and experience is everlasting and never ending.
  • Jun 7 2012: My main regret is not speaking up when I should of. I needed to take a risk but I was too scared and young to comprehend.
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      Jun 7 2012: Now you are older, wiser, you comprehend, and I'm sure you will do something different?
      Sounds like there was a good lesson learned:>)
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    Jun 7 2012: I believe we most regret what we DON'T do. The failure to take action lingers for a long time (sometimes forever), I think it's the element of the unknown that makes it enigmatic and lasting. When I'm faltering to decide on a big (or small decision) I say to myself ..' imagine if I don't do it, what do I stand to regret?'
    .......So I regret decisions that have limited my potential.

    .......I guess I'm saying that action is the antidote to regret.
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      Jun 7 2012: I agree Stuart...
      I volunteered in a terminal care facility and experienced people expressing regrets as they were dying. People often have regrets regarding what they DID NOT DO, and that made the dying process more difficult for them. It seemed that their life was incomplete, so they seemed afraid or unwilling to leave. Those who lived a full life, with no regrets, died more content.
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        Jun 8 2012: Thanks Colleen for that moving example of how regret can affect individuals.
  • Jun 7 2012: I regret that I was so afraid of what might happen(or not happen) in the future, that I held on to what I had in the present, even if I knew it wasn't right. Don't ever stay with a person, job, college major, anything that you know isn't the right fit for you just because you are afraid that the "right" thing will never come along (or not come along in the timeline you want).
    It will come along. It may not be in the timing or the way you expect, but it will happen.
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    Jun 7 2012: The amount of time and energy I waste trying to get friends and family around me to LIVE their lives to the fullest. It's a catch 22 of sorts: If I go out and do what I want, when I want it... then I'm labeled anti-social and self-absorbed. But if I sit around trying to cheer lead others into joining me...I never get to do what my heart desires. I've finally gotten myself to the point where I ask once if they want to go with me...give them a second to decide - then I go with no regrets. I only wished it didn't take me to my late 40's to develop this mindset.
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    Jun 7 2012: Maybe dare not to reveal my willing to persue my favorite fields like maths and something else. But in my deep heart, the mania for them exists ever and will never vanish. Afterwards the fate of facing the gap in the performance on these fields is inevitable, while I am still here to soppurt my curiosity and soul with them.
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      Jun 7 2012: Your skill in math will help you excel in every field especially ones unrelated to math because they tend to attract those without this skill and you might be the only one who can figure the issues out in a way that demonstrates clearly the issues and the solutions. Good luck!
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        Jun 7 2012: You're a wonderfucl woman Debra! And you too YAN!
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    Jun 7 2012: Nice question Fonkou,
    During my college days I always used to regret :Why did n't I follow my passion 5 years back but now its different, I realized that any age is the right age to follow once passion .
    So we must never focus on regrets, as that always holds one back. We gain nothing in regretting.
    We will definetly be able to connect the dots at a later point of time in our life .
    During my college days , I had only 1 passion : Music
    Now,I have so many passions : Music, Clinical Psychology , Social Entrepreneurship , Counselling ,Philosophy
    So have a goal and then set some sort of action items to realize it and enjoy the process of achieving the goal .
    Hope it helps
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      Jun 7 2012: Wow that changed my views on regret. Thank you soo much!
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    Jun 11 2012: I think that Kathryn Schulz's talk on Don't Regret Regret is a great talk for people to watch about this topic.

    Of course I have regrets: two failed marriages; missed opportunities in advancing my career; not spending more time with elderly relatives before they passed; losing contact with some amazing people in my life and so on. But I own my decisions and my roles in these events, and I feel that I have grown from them. I still beat myself up about things that go wrong, but for less time than I used to. I still feel sick to my stomach when I think of some things from my past and my role in them, usually when I wasn't strong enough to stand up for what I truly believed in, but I know that I am a different person now, and those things helped me become who I am today.

    So in answer, my biggest regret would be that it has taken me so long to learn all of these lessons and understand what I might be able to achieve with my life.
  • Jun 9 2012: Haven't realised that the most important thing in life is to enjoy the moment.
    I've wasted a lot of time and kept blaming myself.
    But luckily, I've got it all. It's not too late...
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    Jun 8 2012: Not getting to grips with other languages. I'd love to be able to speak French, Spanish, Italian, Chinese...
  • Jun 7 2012: Cut off everyone you know that you feel could hold you back. Be cold-hearted when it's needed and do everything it takes to get as far as you can in life.
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    Jun 7 2012: One regret is that I didn't push a little harder or more strategically to get accurate information about my mother's life before I was born. She was secretive about it, so it is possible I would not have succeeded in any case, but I wish I had a more concrete picture of my mother's history, which might explain better the trajectory that her life followed during my lifetime.
    Another more minor regret is that I sometimes don't jump ship fast enough from degenerating, no-win situations. Several times I have been in environments that changed in my tenure there from open and progressive to narrow and regressive, and I have hung on too long, working hard to revive the corpse. It is a useful skill to know "when to hold 'em and when to fold em," as they say in an old country song.
  • T Rose

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    Jun 7 2012: Getting married was by far my biggest regret and roadblock in life. I often wonder what my life would have been like if I didn't get married at 23 and divorced at 30. My life is not bad but I think it could have been much better if I did not marry.
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    Jun 7 2012: Mine is walking into that surgeon's office and allowing him to do surgery. I should have said "thanks but no thanks" after he started complaining about surgical scrubs that are alcohol based. His worry was that his skin would absorb it. I know that the Mullahs of Saudi Arabia made a ruling which permitted this use in the run up to the pandemic. They decided it was no problem and that it would save lives so why would I know this when he- a practicing man of his faith- appeared to have no idea. The stuff he was complaining about was not even a product I handle! However, I allowed politeness to over rule my gut instinct. Why would he waste the time talking about surgical scrubs when I had a very serious tumour in my spine? My situation was not apparently foremost in his mind and he took advantage and dealt with his own issue rather than my health issue at my expense and he got paid for dealing with his own spiritual issues. I of course must deal with the results of his lack of focus (and apparently another woman paid the ultimate price-she's dead and probably can't complain about it). On my first visit back to him post surgery -we looked at the mri where the 2 clots in my brain (he maintains some sort of ruse that there is only one- I guess it must travel- (or maybe Deepak Chopra helps him move it on the physical plane) he took one look at it and said "You should be dead" So much for morgside humour! There is an adage that says that surgeons bury their mistakes and I insist upon staying alive- how inconvenient for him!
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      Jun 7 2012: WOW. Cant you sue him darling?
      And how are you now? Are you getting better or?
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        Jun 8 2012: Dearest Fonkou!
        I still do therapy for more than 6 hours a week and I absolutely love it and the amazing therapist. I have almost no balance- it is so weird. I helped all my babies learn to walk and now I have to apply it to myself. If I close my eyes while I am standing I have no idea that I am falling until it is too late. I am definately getting better- there is more sunshine inside my head than there used to be!
        Thank you for asking sweet Fonkou!
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          Jun 8 2012: If I have done anything good in my life.....and if there is any good return for those scanty things......right this moment sending all those small goodies for you Debra......

          Stay well .........
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    Jun 11 2012: I thought that the way I am and the way i used to be were less significant to make a life that is interesting and meaningful. There is so much fun in the way others are. These thoughts wasted my energy. I believe I could have done much more to make my life happy. Anyway, trying to let go of the past. Still young and life is to live, not regretting but learning from the past.
  • Jun 9 2012: Not spending more time with my sister while she was in better health before she passed away. I can't stopped getting choked up about it. The only comfort I now have is being present the minute she no longer had to be confined to her sick and withering frame. My beautiful sister was one month from her 37th birthday. I hate Lupus!
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    Jun 9 2012: Breaking up with my girlfriend...
  • Jun 8 2012: Seeing Don Adams at a Hollywood memorabilia show sitting alone waiting to sign autographs and not going up to him to tell him how he changed my life, would you believe altered it slightly? He died a week later and I always regretted not telling him how much I enjoyed his comedy.
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    Jun 8 2012: rushing early and not waiting till knowing what i really wanted..whenever i ignored my instincts and totaly went with my safe plans, i had to regret
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    Jun 8 2012: That's one thing I know it's going haunt me forever... The day before my cousin committed suicide back in 1998, I was with him, and I couldn't see that coming. I blamed myself and endless regret on why I couldn't spot that and do something to stop that.

    I know, it will be very hard to walk out of this shadow as I have been trying for the past 14 years...
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      Jun 8 2012: Dear Leslie,
      That is a hard one to let go of....I understand.

      Years ago, there was a friend released to my care from the hosp. after trying to end her life. For about three years, she stayed with me for a few months, and went home to an abusive relationship off and on. During all of this time, I was connected with her health care team (M.D. Psychologist, councelor, etc.) as we all tried to support her in her life journey, which always seemed to be very challenging for her.

      Finally, she got to the point where she was ready to end the abusive relationship, she got a job that she liked, and wanted to get an apartment on her own. We all felt that she was ready to take these steps, so we supported her in the move.

      I visited her in her new apartment, which was lovely...she seemed content, well adjusted...still liking her job....everything seemed to be going well. The next day, her daughter found her dead in that lovely apartment. She had taken an overdose of perscription drugs...again....and this time she was successful in ending her life.

      I still sometimes ask myself....was there more I could have done? Did we ( health care providers) miss something? Were we not in tune enough to realize that she was still vulnerable? I tell you this story because sometimes, no matter how much we aware we much we try to encourage others, they will often still make decisions which we do not understand.

      Be kind, understanding, compassionate, empathic and unconditionally loving of yourself. We are not responsible for the choices others make. We can be as aware as possible, and still not be totally aware of what another person is thinking or feeling, unless s/he chooses to share that information with us.

      My thoughts and love are with you...give yourself the love you need to "walk out of this shadow".
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        Jun 8 2012: Thank you, Colleen! Thanks for sharing your experiences. Maybe it was hard for me because I was 17 when that happened. It was a life changing after that, I left my country after 2 years, because I felt hopeless back then. My cousin was close to me, we grew up together, everywhere in the city seems kept reminding me of him...

        Thank you!
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          Jun 8 2012: Leslie,
          I'm sure it was very difficult for you. You will probably be reminded of him always...all ways. Remember the togetherness you shared...remember the good times you had together. Remember that you probably gave your cousin a great gift with your times together, as he gave you. Remember that we don't always know what battles a person is waging within him/herself. Most of all, remind yourself every now and then that as a 17 year old person, you did your very best, with the information you had at that time.

          You can hold onto the joy that you and your cousin experienced, and maybe you can let go of regret or responsibility for the choice your cousin made....yes?
    • Jun 8 2012: Leslie:

      The most influential and inspiring TED speakers with degrees ranging from psychology to astrophysics to english could probably not have been able to decipher the level of depression your cousin endured. Regrets should emerge from activities or actions within our control – for the past fourteen years you have let someone else’s actions control your regret. While I do not know the exact situation, I do know that your cousin’s suicide was not your fault, nor could it have been prevented.