A life of no regrets may be nearly impossible, but a life of never regrets is. Waking up ten minutes early to talk with God, asking your spouse, “How was your day?” or writing a note just because. Never regrets are things we already do every day, endeavors for which we have no remorse. Not a single misgiving. They are beautiful moments when we think, “Why don’t I do this more often?”
Playing a game with a child, taking a walk, telling a friend that color of blue looks amazing with her eyes. Never regrets spring up like crocus flowers in late winter. They push through frozen, hard ground fearlessly with no care for mistakes or would haves: only for beauty that can be. That must be.
Hard ground for me is saying hello to strangers. Even though I love to talk to people, that initial introduction always scares the bejabbers out of me. The other day I sat down next to another mom at a school awards assembly for one of my children. Silence spanned across the empty chair between us. She squirmed in her seat. I sat with arms and legs crossed, fingers fidgeting as I considered reaching for my phone to distract me. Inside I felt a little nervous, and she looked like she did too.
A thought flashed across my mind: have I ever regretted trying to make someone else feel at ease? The answer is no. I never regret saying hello to a stranger, even when the conversation goes south. Sadly, the initial awkwardness often keeps me from connecting. Then I’m trapped in the should haves.
That’s the job of a never regret, to call us outside ourselves, to engage the world generously, to be the beautiful courage we imagine doing. Never regrets require tremendous effort. But with a smidgen of work comes a gold mine for an amazing life of love overflowing with gratitude, clarity, kindness, and compassion. I love what Langston Hughes says in the poem No Regrets:
Out of love,
Though the goodness
Be wasted forever.
Out of love
Though the return
Regrets come from a place of guilt. Never regrets come from a heart of love.
Listing Your Never Regrets
To make a list of never regrets, ask yourself: what difficult things have I done lately that have pushed me out of myself? What has grown my heart for God and my compassion for others? Here are some of mine.
- Connecting with God. Praying before breakfast. Reading a verse at mealtimes. Reading a devotional with my kids before bedtime.
- Reaching out. Smiling at the barista and saying hello. Calling a friend I haven’t talked to in a while.
- Moving. Fifteen minutes of yoga. Five laps around the track. Getting up out of my office chair and dancing to techno music. (It’s a good thing I work from home).
- Saying thank you. Telling my family I’m thankful for their help around the house. Writing down 3 gratefuls at day’s end.
- Creatively playing. Doodling. Journaling. Goofing off with my kids.
- Paying attention. Writing down people’s names, birthdays, and prayer concerns. Looking up from my phone to listen to my son’s story. Noticing the hot pink sunrise outside my window every morning.
- Speaking up. Saying how I feel. Asking for help when I’m afraid and anxious. Writing bravely.
Like a winter flower stiffly reaching for sunlight, I extended my hand across the imaginary barrier to the other mom. She was lovely, and we talked for ten minutes. Even though I got her name terribly wrong later, I will never regret making the effort.
Never regrets are my no regrets New Year’s resolution. Tweet This