Ever call up a buddy and ask, “What are you doing?” and they said, “Nothing.” You can’t do “nothing.” Doing nothing requires taking heavy medication. Actually, taking heavy medication is still doing something. Sleeping is doing something. So is staring into space; so is flossing your teeth; so is scratching your arm; so is eating a plate of lima beans; so is waiting in the dentist’s waiting room. We are always investing our time somewhere for some reason. We might not connect with the reasons consciously, but we are always doing something.
“Doing nothing is not as easy as it looks. You have to be careful, because the idea of doing anything could easily lead to doing something, which would cut into your nothing and force you to have to drop everything.” --- Jerry Seinfeld
We have each said to ourselves at some point, “Why am I doing this?” Consciously or unconsciously, we choose to do what we believe to be the best option at the time. We may even know consciously that the activity is not good for us but still we do it. There are reasons. They are our reasons. We may not be able to vocalize them, or even wrap our minds around them, but we have reasons for the actions we take.
The action may not be what we wished we would have wanted to take. Still, we chose to act (based on the circumstances and anticipated consequences). That is what personal regret is: wishing we’d have wanted to do something differently.
When we look back upon actions we have regretted, we find that, at the time, we thought that taking the action would help us attain some mixture of pleasure, peace of mind, profit, prestige, pain avoidance, and power. We regret the action because we did not receive the Ps that we expected, and/or because our actions deprived someone else of those good outcomes.
Have you ever heard someone say, “I don’t have a choice”? Not true. We always have a choice, usually several. The choices may not be enjoyable, safe, or even legal, but there are always choices. Every choice has consequences. Maybe we view the consequences as unpalatably negative for us, but we do have choices. The choices might not be choice choices, but there are always choices from which to choose (that was a fun sentence to write).
Contributed by: Dean Lindsay, Award Winning Speaker and Author of The Progress Challenge & Co-Author of Stepping Stones to Success