Summary - The Power of Regret: How Looking Backward Moves Us Forward - Daniel H. Pink

Summary - The Power of Regret: How Looking Backward Moves Us Forward - Daniel H. Pink


Here's a summary of the information:

  • Charles Dumont wrote the famous French song "Non, je ne regrette rien" (No, I Regret Nothing) in 1960 for Edith Piaf. After initially resisting hearing the music, Piaf ended up loving it and helping popularize it. It became an iconic song and solidified her status.

  • In 2016, Amber Chase, a woman living in Calgary, Canada, got a tattoo that said "No Regrets" after a night out with friends.

  • Five years earlier, Mirella Battista, who had moved from Brazil to Philadelphia for college, got a similar "No Regrets" tattoo behind her ear before moving back to Brazil.

  • Germanno Teles, Battista's brother, had also gotten a "No Regrets" tattoo, below his knee, after injuring his leg in a motorcycle accident.

  • The summary is that "no regrets" and sentiments like it have become popular in recent decades, expressed through mediums like songs, tattoos, and more. But the stance of having no regrets is not realistic or helpful, and in fact, experiencing shame is a natural human tendency.

That covers the key details and main takeaway from the information presented in the opening. Let me know if you want me to clarify or expand on any part of this summary.

  • "No regrets" is a famous motto in many cultural areas. Many people assert that living without regret leads to Happiness and well-being.

The author argues this belief is misguided and even "dead wrong." Regret is a normal, healthy, and valuable human emotion. It provides clarity and instructs us. When used constructively, regret does not have to drag us down but can lift us.

  • The author provides examples of famous people like Edith Piaf who proclaimed to have no regrets but whose lives were filled with tragedies, troubles, and questionable choices that likely led to feelings of guilt. The author also spoke with people with "no regrets" tattoos but acknowledged past regrets and how they learned from their mistakes.

  • One woman, Amber Chase, has a "no ragrets" tattoo that intentionally misspells "regrets" as a reference to a movie scene mocking the idea of genuinely having no regrets. The author notes that about 20% of people with tattoos come to regret them, showing how unrealistic the "no regrets" motto is.

  • The author argues that regret and other "negative" emotions are valuable and powerful. He gives the example of Harry Markowitz, an economist who figured out that diversifying investments is optimal. Before Markowitz, many investors thought choosing a few high-potential stocks was the path to success. But Markowitz showed that balancing risk and return, and avoiding putting "all your eggs in one basket" leads to the best outcomes.

  • Similarly, a balanced and diversified emotional life that includes positive and negative emotions, like regret, leads to optimal well-being and Happiness. Suppressing guilt and other challenging emotions is as misguided as investing in only a few stocks. A mix of emotions, managed constructively, helps us thrive.

  • Markowitz showed that investors could reduce risk and gain healthy returns by diversifying their investments across different stocks and industries. This is known as modern portfolio theory.

  • Though powerful, we often fail to apply the logic of diversification to other areas of life, like our emotions. We tend to overvalue positive emotions and undervalue negative ones. But positive and negative emotions are essential, like stocks in an investment portfolio.

  • Regret is powerful but misunderstood negative emotion. Extensive research over 70 years shows that regret makes us human and better.

  • The author conducted two extensive studies on regret: the American Regret Project, surveying 4,489 Americans, and the World Regret Survey, collecting over 16,000 regrets from 105 countries. These studies reveal regret's deep structure and provide insights into human nature and a good life.

  • Regret involves two unique human abilities: mentally time traveling to the past and creating stories about things that didn't actually happen. We visit the past, change what happened, and see how the present would differ. This shows the human mind's astonishing capacity for counterfactual thinking.

  • Regret also involves comparing our current situation to what might have been if we had made a different choice. This gap between reality and the imagined alternative creates the feeling we know as regret. But for all its discomfort, guilt serves essential biological, psychological, and social purposes.

  • In summary, regret makes us human because of our ability for complex counterfactual thinking and self-reflection. Though negative, regret is a vital and multidimensional emotion that helps us learn, make better choices, and build connections. We must learn how to harness its power rather than avoid it.

  • Regret is a fundamental and common human emotion. It emerges around age 6-8 as children's thinking skills develop. It requires the ability to mentally travel through time, imagine alternative outcomes, and assess blame for one's choices.

  • Studies show that most adults frequently look back and wish they had made different choices. Regret is one of the most common emotions people experience and value. Research estimates people regret about 30% of their weekly decisions.

  • Regret differs from disappointment or sadness because it involves comparing one's actual outcome with a better imagined alternative and blaming oneself for the choice that led to the worse result. It is triggered by events within our control, not external circumstances.

  • The inability to experience regret can signal brain damage or cognitive impairment. Patients with conditions like Huntington's disease, Parkinson's disease, or schizophrenia often show impaired regret reasoning. Doctors use regret tests to assess patients' cognitive abilities.

  • Regret is "an essential component of the human experience" and "preprogrammed" in our cognitive abilities. Despite advice to avoid regret, it is widespread and helps us evaluate our choices and learn from our mistakes. Attempting to eliminate regret is futile and can indicate unhealthy avoidance. Regret is a marker of a mature, well-developed mind.

In summary, regret is a fundamental emotion that emerges in childhood, involves complex cognitive skills, and plays a vital role in human decision-making and learning. While unpleasant, regret is normal and healthy, and its absence may indicate impaired thinking. Research shows most people experience substantial regret in their lives, which is one of the most common and valued human emotions.

  • According to numerous studies and surveys, regret is a universal human experience. Nearly everyone accumulates regrets throughout their lives.

  • Michele Mayo got a tattoo with the French phrase "Non, Je Ne Regrette Rien" ("No, I Regret Nothing") to mark her 50th birthday. Although she says she has no regrets, she acknowledges making mistakes and learning from them. She wonders if Edith Piaf, who sang that song, really had no regrets when she died. Piaf's last words suggest she did have regrets.

  • A study of Olympic athletes found that bronze medalists often seem happier than silver medalists, demonstrating the impact of counterfactual thinking. After a competition, silver medalists focus on how they narrowly missed winning gold, while bronze medalists focus on how they nearly missed winning a medal. This shows how our ability to imagine alternative outcomes—what might have been—shapes our emotions.

  • In the 2016 women's Olympic road race cycling event, the bronze medalist looked happier on the podium than the silver medalist, even though the silver medalist outperformed her. This illustrates the study's findings that counterfactual thinking can lead to surprising emotional reactions.

The key ideas are:

  1. Regret is universal and shapes human experience.

  2. Our ability to imagine alternative outcomes (counterfactual thinking) significantly impacts our emotions.

  3. This can lead to unexpected emotional reactions, as seen in studies of Olympic athletes.

  • Bronze medalists at the Olympics were content with their performance and rated their Happiness at 7.1 out of 10. Silver medalists rated their Happiness at only 4.8 out of 10.

  • This is because bronze medalists focused on "downward counterfactuals" or "At Leasts," thinking about how things could have been worse. For example, "At least I got a medal." Silver medalists, on the other hand, focused on "upward counterfactuals" or "If Onlys," thinking about how things could have been better. For example, "If only I had trained harder, I could have won gold."

  • If Onlys make people feel worse, while At Leasts make people feel better. However, research shows that people generate far more If Onlys daily. We favor If Onlys because while they decrease Happiness, they can improve our future performance and decision-making.

  • Regret is powerful. If Only that makes us feel bad now so we can do better in the future. Research shows regret offers three main benefits:

  1. It improves our decision making by reducing biases like escalation of commitment to a failing course of action.

  2. It enhances our performance on various tasks. For example, students who were made to feel regret about not studying harder for an exam subsequently spent more time looking for a second exam.

  3. It strengthens our relationships. For example, people who reflected on interpersonal regrets from the past week were subsequently more interested in reconciling with relationship partners and more motivated to make amends.

  • In summary, while regret is painful, it is an adaptive emotion that often helps us learn and grow. The pain of regret today results in a better tomorrow.

Here is a summary of your sense of meaning and connectedness:

  1. Regret can improve your decisions by:
  • Slowing you down and making you more thoughtful and deliberative

  • Encouraging you to consider more options and information before deciding

  • Helping you avoid cognitive biases and traps

  • Providing a script for how to handle similar situations better in the future

  • CEOs and parents reported that reflecting on regrets led to better future decisions

  1. Regret can boost your performance by:
  • Increasing your persistence and motivation

  • Helping you solve more complex problems (like anagrams or puzzles)

  • Preparing you with information to perform better next time

  • Even thinking about other people's regrets (vicarious regret) can improve performance

  • Brief regret can boost performance, though prolonged regret may have the opposite effect

  • Reflecting on how to benefit from a regret often improves subsequent performance

  • Experiencing regret from setbacks may even benefit your career by motivating improvement

In summary, regret is an emotion that, while unpleasant, serves an essential purpose in improving our reasoning, learning, decision-making, and performance over the long run. Though the initial regret stings, reflecting on it and using it as an opportunity to grow often results in benefits and rewards.

The researchers found that scientists who narrowly missed a breakthrough or discovery (the "narrow-miss" group) went on to have more successful careers than those who barely achieved significant success (the "narrow-win" group). The narrow-miss group produced research that was cited more often and was more likely to publish influential papers. The researchers concluded that the initial failure or setback motivated the narrow-miss scientists to reflect on their work, make strategic changes, and improve their performance.

In other words, experiencing regret and failure spurred these scientists to grow and work better in the long run. Their careers benefited from the learning and meaning gained through struggle. This finding suggests that regret handled constructively can enhance our lives in meaningful ways:

  1. Regret improves decision making. Recognizing mistakes helps us make better choices in the future. We can draw on the memory of regret to navigate uncertain situations and evaluate options more wisely.

  2. Regret boosts performance. The "near miss" of failure motivates us to work harder and do better. We need to redeem ourselves to push forward with incredible determination and skill.

  3. Regret deepens meaning. Looking back on pivotal life events and thinking about "what might have been" helps us appreciate what we have. We gain perspective and our lives feel more purposeful as a result. Regret adds flavor to life's experiences, both bitter and sweet.

In summary, regret serves an essential purpose when we handle it well. It propels us to think, act, and pursue meaning in ways that make us better—as decision-makers, performers, and people seeking purpose. The key is not ignoring regret or wallowing in it but using it constructively to drive positive change.

  • Surveys from the mid-20th century found that many people said they had no regrets or wouldn't change much about their lives. There was a reluctance to express hardship and self-reflection.

  • However, the most common regrets that did emerge were around education - not getting enough of it or pursuing more of it. This made sense given the period when few had college degrees and school segregation was still in place. Over time, regretting the lack of education opportunities became more common.

  • Academics and researchers took more interest in studying regret starting in the 1980s. Their research found common themes in people's regrets:

  • Education: Lack of or missed opportunities for education was a frequent regret. This was especially true for women and minorities who faced more barriers.

  • Relationships: Failing to maintain close relationships or express feelings to loved ones was a common regret. Neglecting family and friends was seen as a lost opportunity.

  • Parenting: For parents, especially mothers, regret about parenting choices and time spent with children was frequent. There was a sense of missed chances to impact their kids positively.

  • Career: Regret around career paths not taken or poor career choices featured prominently in people's expressed regrets—questions of "what if" came up often.

  • Risk-taking: Many regretted not taking enough risks, being too cautious, and missing out on opportunities for adventure or growth. Playing it safe was seen as limiting life's experiences.

  • Authenticity: Some regretted not pursuing dreams or being their "true" selves. There was regret over lack of courage or willingness to forge one's path in life.

  • Health: Poor health choices and habits were a frequent source of regret. Not maintaining good health and fitness was seen as jeopardizing the quality and longevity of life.

So, in summary, the most common regrets center around education and personal relationships, parenting, careers, risk-taking, authenticity, and health. But there are many individual differences as well. The key is using regret to motivate positive change.

  • Early surveys found that education was people's top regret. However, these surveys had methodological flaws, like non-representative samples conducted mainly on college campuses.

  • A 2011 study with a nationally representative sample found a more comprehensive range of regrets, with romance/relationships and family as the top categories. People regretted things they felt they could no longer fix.

  • The author conducted the most extensive survey on regret in the U.S., with over 4,000 participants reflecting the country's demographics. The survey asked people to describe one significant regret in 2-3 sentences and categorize it.

  • The results found a diversity of regrets across many life domains. The regrets often involved a sense of loss or missed opportunity. But some themes emerged around relationships, family, work, finances, and living life more fully.

  • The critical insight is that regret comes in many forms for many reasons. But some regrets may be more common and point to more profound life lessons—the survey aimed to understand better the regrets that shape people's lives.

The key findings are:

  1. Regret is diverse, but some themes are more common, especially around relationships, family, work, money, and living life fully.

  2. Regret often arises from a sense of loss or missed opportunity.

  3. The reasons for regret are complex and personal but may reflect broader life lessons.

  4. Gaining insight into common regrets and their sources can help individuals reflect on their lives and priorities.

Does this summary accurately reflect the key details and main takeaways from the surveys and studies described in the passage? Let me know if you want me to clarify or expand the summary in any way.

  • A survey of American regrets found that family regrets topped the list at 22%, partner regrets at 19%, and education, career, and finance regrets. Health and friend regrets were at the bottom of the list.

  • The findings show that regrets span many life domains rather than cluster in any single category. This makes sense because human life involves many roles and responsibilities across different disciplines. Guilt also provides benefits as it helps improve decision-making and boosts performance and meaning.

  • Two examples of education regrets from Kevin Wang and John Welches show that while their regrets seem similar on the surface, the underlying reasons for their regrets are pretty different. Kevin regretted not studying hard enough for the MCAT, while John regretted not taking a risk to pursue an MFA in creative writing.

  • Analyzing entries from the World Regret Survey revealed moral breaches as a common underlying cause of regret. Three examples from men in Australia, Canada, and California show that while their regrets spanned marriage, childhood, and an election, respectively, they all involved compromising one's integrity.

  • Linguist Noam Chomsky showed that languages share an underlying "deep structure" or universal framework, even as their "surface structures" or individual variants differ. This also applies to regret, which has a surface structure related to life domains and a hidden deep structure related to human motivations and aspirations.

  • The deep structure of regret was identified by analyzing recurring words and phrases in the World Regret Survey entries, regardless of the respondents' attributes or the topics they described. The four core regrets relate to compromising integrity, timidity, not taking opportunities, and needing more authenticity.

Here is a summary of the key points:

Foundation regrets arise from a lack of diligence and foresight. They stem from choosing short-term gratification over long-term well-being.


  • Failing to save money or plan financially for the future.

  • Neglecting health and fitness in favor of short-term pleasure or convenience.

  • Not working hard enough in school or at a job.

The choices seem minor at the time but accumulate into significant regrets over the long run. Foundation regrets often say, "If only I had done the work."

These regrets start with an irresistible temptation for instant gratification. But they end in the inexorable logic of consequences. People discount the future to favor the present, not realizing the long-term costs.

The story of the ant and the grasshopper illustrates this well. The grasshopper plays all summer instead of preparing for winter. The ant works hard to store food. Come winter, the grasshopper has nothing and starves. The ant is designed and survives.

Like the grasshopper, people who develop foundation regrets value short-term rewards over long-term well-being. They often regret neglecting health, finances, education, and career. The small choices add up until the consequences become too big to fix.

In summary, foundation regrets stem from a failure to do responsible, prudent work that provides stability and security. They arise when we don't consider the long game and instead indulge in short-term thinking.

  • In the Regret Project and World Regret Survey, respondents described experiences of temporal discounting, valuing immediate rewards over long-term benefits, using phrases like "too much" and "too little." Examples include drinking and partying too much in youth or not studying enough.

  • These types of regrets, called "foundation regrets," emerge gradually over time through the compounding effects of many small, poor choices. They are hard to undo and can have significant consequences. Respondents described foundation regrets around health, education, finance, and mental health that they didn't address until too late.

  • Foundation regrets are challenging to avoid because our brains value immediate rewards over future benefits and struggle to grasp how small choices compound over time. They are also hard to attribute solely to personal responsibility vs. external factors, an error known as the "fundamental attribution error." Many factors shape a person's foundation, health, education, and finances.

  • The solution is building a solid foundation through good choices and habits as early as possible. As the Chinese proverb says, "The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now." It's always okay to start addressing foundation regrets, even if one can't undo all the consequences. The key is learning from the past and making better choices in the future.

In summary, foundation regrets result from shortsighted choices earlier in life that compromise health, education, finances, and other fundamentals. They emerge gradually but can be hard to remedy. The best approach is building a solid foundation through good lifelong habits, learning from mistakes, and making the best choices one can at any point in time.

  • Boldness regrets arise from failing to take chances or risks that could lead to a more prosperous, more fulfilling life. They often emerge from being too shy, introverted, or fearful of rejection to speak up or act.

  • Many people regret being too shy or introverted, especially in their youth. They lament missing out on opportunities and experiences by being afraid to take social risks or express themselves.

  • While introversion and extroversion exist on a spectrum, most people have elements of both. Modest efforts to become slightly more extroverted, like acting outgoing for a week, can increase well-being and life satisfaction.

  • Overcoming apprehension and fear to speak up or take a chance, even in a small way, can be transformative. Regret over lacking boldness in the past can motivate people to find their voice and become more assertive in the future.

  • The story of Bruce meeting a woman on a train in France but never seeing her again highlights how the choice between playing it safe and taking a risk can lead to regret. At that moment, Bruce lacked the boldness to get off the train with her, and he still wishes 40 years later that he had.

  • The lesson from boldness regrets is that while stability and security are essential, you must sometimes step out of your comfort zone to live fully. Take calculated risks, find your voice, and don't be ruled by fear of rejection or what others might say. The rewards of boldness can be worth it.

The key message is that people often regret not taking bold actions and speaking up. Specifically:

  1. Inaction regrets tend to outweigh action regrets. People dwell on what might have been if they had acted differently. The possibilities of what could have happened are endless, whereas the outcomes of actions taken are known and limited.

  2. Regrets about not taking bold actions in relationships and careers are common. Many regret not asking someone out or not taking a risk to change jobs. These regrets reflect a desire to grow and become "better" or happier.

  3. Many regret not traveling or studying abroad when young and less encumbered by responsibilities. They wish they had taken the opportunity for adventure and new experiences.

  4. Some regret not being true to themselves by hiding their identities or not speaking up in the face of ridicule. Coming out or using one's voice is an act of boldness that allows for self-actualization.

  5. The story of Bruce and Sandra illustrates these themes. Bruce regretted not pursuing a deeper connection with Sandra after their encounter on the train. His inaction left room for endless speculation about what might have been. Though he tried to throw out her letter, he could not, demonstrating how inaction and regrets persist.

The central argument is that regretting inaction more than action is typical because inaction prevents growth and possibility. Even in uncertainty, speaking up and taking bold risks allows people to become their best and most authentic selves. The stories and examples demonstrate how this manifests in relationships, careers, adventure, identity, and personal fulfillment.

Here's a summary:

  • Kaylyn Viggiano was 21 when her husband's Marine friend told her that her husband no longer loved her and was planning to leave her. Believing him, Kaylyn had an affair, which she deeply regretted.

  • Joel Klemick was 35 years old when his wife received an anonymous call telling her Joel was having an affair. When confronted, Joel initially denied it but eventually confessed. His affair cost him his job, friendships, and nearly his family. He deeply regretted his actions.

  • Moral regrets represent about 10% of deep regrets but often ache the most and last the longest. They involve choosing the "wrong" path at a crucial juncture, hurting others, deceiving people, or violating ethical principles. Examples are "If only I'd done the right thing."

  • According to Jonathan Haidt, people have instant moral intuitions about right and wrong. We then use reason to justify those intuitions. We are not impartial judges rationally weighing ethical questions.

  • Morality is broader than just avoiding harm to others or deceit. For many, it also involves loyalty to one's group, respect for authority, and reverence for the sacred. Haidt's moral foundations theory identifies five moral pillars:

  1. Care/harm: Protect the vulnerable. Kindness.

  2. Fairness/cheating: Justice, sharing, cooperation.

  3. Loyalty/betrayal: Stand by your group.

  4. Authority/subversion: Respect traditions and leadership.

  5. Sanctity/degradation: Reverence for the sacred; avoid the impure.

  • Liberals focus more on care/harm and fairness, while conservatives emphasize the other pillars. But nearly everyone agrees to harm children or stealing is wrong.

  • Moral regrets often involve betraying one's moral foundations and values, whatever they may be. The regrets represent a failure to do what one thinks is right.

Here's a summary:

Those who hurt others or cheat them are cruel because:

  1. Hurting others goes against our evolutionary instinct for cooperation and trust. Bullying and harming others jeopardize group survival.

  2. Cheating and betraying trust violates the "reciprocal altruism" that bonds human relationships. When we make promises or commitments to others, we expect them to be kept. Betraying that trust is seen as morally wrong across cultures.

  3. Harmful and cheating others cause lasting regret because they go against core moral values related to harm, fairness, and loyalty. The guilt often stems from recognizing the pain inflicted and the damage to one's integrity. Making amends can help alleviate guilt by reaffirming moral values.

In short, cruelty in the form of harming or cheating others triggers regret because it violates moral principles central to human cooperation and trust. But recognizing those moral failures, and working to do better, is the first step toward redemption.

Moral regrets stem from actions that violate one's moral code and sense of right and wrong. They tend to be the most painful regrets but also show our desire to be good. The lessons from honest regrets are:

  1. Harm: Regrets about inflicting harm on others through bullying, cheating, or other hurtful actions. The need is to prevent damage. The lesson is to treat others with kindness, empathy, and respect.

  2. Fairness: Regrets about acting unfairly or unjustly towards others. The need is for justice and equality. The lesson is to give people their due and judge them based on their merits.

  3. Loyalty: Regrets about failing to fulfill one's obligations to a group or community. The need is to strengthen bonds through sacrifice and service. The lesson is to be there for the groups and people that depend on you.

  4. Authority: Regrets disrespecting or dishonoring authority figures like parents and teachers. The need is to show proper deference. The lesson is to respect those in positions of authority.

  5. Sanctity: Regrets about violating sacred values or principles. The need is to honor what we hold most holy. The lesson is to revere life, customs, and ideals we deem sacred.

In summary, while moral regrets stem from diverse values and experiences, they point to our shared belief in certain ethical goods like preventing harm, acting with justice, strengthening the community, respecting authority, and honoring the sacred. By reflecting on our moral failures and needs, we can become better individuals and a more just society.

  • Cheryl and Jen were close college friends with big dreams and aspirations. After graduating in 1990, they drifted apart over the years through a lack of communication as their lives took them to different places.

  • Cheryl regrets letting the friendship fade and not maintaining the relationship. She sees it as a "connection regret" - a category of deep human regret arising from undone or incomplete relationships. She views it as an "open door" regret, meaning the opportunity to reconnect still exists but requires effort. Open door regrets bother us because we can do something about them, even if it's complicated.

  • Closed-door regrets, on the other hand, distress us because the opportunity is gone, and we can't do anything about it. Amy has a closed-door guilt over her childhood friend Deepa, who died before Amy called to reconnect. Amy regrets missing the chance and not being there for Deepa. Closed-door regrets teach us lessons to avoid making the same mistakes again.

  • Relationships end in one of two ways: rifts or drifts. Rifts are catalyzed by a specific incident that leads to conflict and antagonism. Drifts fade over time through a lack of communication, as with Cheryl and Jen's friendship. Rifts are openly hostile, while drifts are more passive. But both types of relationship endings can be a source of deep regret.

  • The desire to belong is a fundamental human need. When our connections to others unravel or never fully form, we suffer - and we suffer even more when we're responsible for it. Connection regrets threaten our sense of belonging, so they cut so deep.

You regret not developing a closer relationship with your daughter-in-law before she and your son moved to Australia. They left suddenly and are now estranged. Mending relationships that have drifted apart can be challenging because people often feel awkward reconnecting after a long separation. However, research shows we must overestimate how uncomfortable reaching out will be for both parties. Rekindling old connections often leads to positive feelings for everyone involved.

The most extended study on human development and well-being found that close relationships are the most significant predictor of Happiness and health. People with strong, loving bonds with family and community tend to live longer, experience less pain and distress, and age more gracefully. By contrast, loneliness and isolation can harm physical and mental health.

Many participants in the World Regret Study came to similar conclusions, expressing regret over not nurturing relationships and connections as much as they could have. Parents, in particular, rarely regretted having children but often wished they had shown their kids more affection and support. While people fret over romance and partnerships, family relationships may be even more vital sources of meaning and fulfillment. Reconnecting with estranged loved ones, despite the awkwardness, can be an act of self-care that leads to Happiness for all.

  • A group of 40 international scholars examined data from 27 societies and found that people prioritize familial relationships over romantic ones. They suggest more research should focus on long-term family relationships, which provide greater well-being.

  • George Vaillant, who led the Harvard Grant Study for over 30 years, concluded that "Happiness is love. Full stop." Meaningful relationships are what give life meaning and satisfaction.

  • The deep regrets people have to reveal the human need for love - not just romantic love but attachment, devotion, and community. The lesson is to reconnect with relationships that have come undone. Push past the awkwardness and reach out.

  • The four core regrets - lack of boldness, weak foundation, moral failings, and lack of connection - operate as a "negative" that reveals what people genuinely value: stability, growth, morality, and relationships.

  • We have three selves: our actual self (who we are now), our ideal self (who we aspire to be), and our ought self (who we believe we should be). Regret comes from the gap between these selves. We regret failing to reach our ideal self (opportunities missed) more than failing our ought self (obligations unmet).

  • Opportunity and obligation are at the center of regret but opportunity is more prominent. We regret we missed opportunities more, like not taking risks or pursuing an education. Deficits we fail at, like neglecting family, also cause regret, but we are more likely to fix those failures, so the guilt fades.

  • Differences in regret across groups like gender, race, and income level were relatively small. But where there were differences, they highlighted the role of opportunity. For example, those with college degrees had more career regrets, likely because they had more options and, therefore, more to regret not pursuing.

In summary, meaningful relationships and pursuing opportunities for growth and purpose are what people value most, according to what they regret most. The deep regrets people hold point to these fundamental human needs. But shame also shows us how to move forward - reconnecting with others and seizing the opportunities before us.

  • Regrets of action refer to regretting things we did, as opposed to regretting things we didn't do (regrets of inaction). Action regrets are less common but often easier to undo.

  • To undo an action regret, we can make amends, reverse our choices, or erase the consequences. For example, someone could apologize to a friend they slapped or get a tattoo removed. These steps can help realign the present situation.

  • Action regrets typically arise from specific incidents and provoke intense emotions, making us want to respond quickly. They are often easier to undo than inaction regrets, which are frequently more abstract and difficult to remedy.

  • People are much more likely to undo action regrets than inaction regrets. Even on TV shows like the Dutch "Het Spijt Me" ("I Am Sorry"), participants sought to repair the harms they had caused rather than things they failed to do.

  • Undoing action regrets can provide psychological benefits like reduced guilt, improved relationships, and a sense of control. While the past can't be changed, its effects on the present can be mitigated.

  • At the same time, some action regrets can't be undone, like hurting someone who has since passed away. In these cases, using "at least" statements to find silver linings can help us feel less regretful about the situation.

Does this summary accurately reflect the key points about undoing action regrets and using "at least" thinking? Let me know if you want me to clarify or expand on any summary part.

  • We can address regrets of action in two main ways:
  1. Undoing: If possible, try to undo the action, e.g., apologizing or fixing mistakes. This can help rebalance the situation, though it may not erase the regret.

  2. Reframing: Adopt an "at least" mindset to find silver linings. This doesn't change the past but can help us feel better.

  • The best approach for most regrets is using them to improve the future. We can do this through a three-step process:
  1. Self-disclosure: Talking about regrets can be rewarding and relieve negative feelings. Even just writing them down privately can help.

  2. Compassion: Avoid being self-critical. Treat yourself with kindness and empathy. Focus on your intentions and circumstances, not just the outcome.

  3. Lesson: Try to gain perspective and extract valuable lessons from your regrets. Ask yourself questions to determine what you can improve for next time. The studies don't erase the guilt but give it purpose.

  • Examples of regrets from the survey:

  • "I regret dedicating my time to studying rational subjects and leaving aside the knowledge of emotions and feelings." (Female, 40, Brazil)

  • "I regret ignoring my inner voice and not heeding its plea to be more adventurous...and for trying to live up to the expectations of society instead of focusing on myself." (Female, 47, Singapore)

  • "I regret picking up a pack of Camel cigarettes on the way to a grim business meeting in 1999. To this day, I smoke—sometimes heavily—out of habit more than enjoyment." (Male, 44, West Virginia)

  • The example of Cheryl shows how self-disclosure, compassion, and gaining perspective can help address regrets of inaction that can't be undone or reframed with "at least." Her guilt over a lost friendship can fuel her to build closer relationships.

  • Self-disclosure—revealing our thoughts and feelings to others or just by writing them down—brings many benefits. It is linked to better health, Happiness, and performance. Self-disclosure is particularly helpful for dealing with negative emotions like regret.

  • Talking or writing about regrets helps us constructively process them. It moves the experience from the emotional and cognitive realms, allowing us to analyze our regrets instead of just ruminating about them. Self-disclosure can build connections with others and lighten the burden of guilt.

  • While self-disclosure exposes us, self-compassion helps us respond healthily. Self-criticism and self-esteem—though common responses—are less effective and can be counterproductive.

  • Self-compassion, pioneered by Kristin Neff, involves treating ourselves with the same kindness we'd show a friend. It normalizes mistakes and difficulties rather than harshly judging ourselves for them. Self-compassion can be learned and cultivated.

  • Research shows self-compassion leads to greater Happiness, optimism, wisdom, and resilience. It is linked to better health and relationships. Self-compassion helps neutralize negative experiences like regret without ignoring or exaggerating them.

  • A study found self-compassion helps people overcome and learn from regrets. Those high in self-compassion had less distress from regrets and were more motivated to remedy regretted actions. Self-compassion may allow us to gain insight from regrets without being overwhelmed.

  • In summary, the critical steps to harness regret are: (1) Disclose the regret by writing or talking about it. (2) Practice self-compassion by responding with understanding and kindness rather than harsh self-judgment. Self-compassion can help transform regret into wisdom and growth.

The study asked participants to list their biggest regret. The participants were divided into three groups:

  1. The self-compassion group wrote a letter to themselves about their regret from an understanding and compassionate perspective.

  2. The self-esteem group wrote a letter validating their positive qualities.

  3. The control group wrote about their hobby.

The self-compassion group was more likely to change their behavior. Even a brief writing exercise led people to plan to avoid regretful behavior in the future. Self-compassion helps people confront their regrets and make personal improvements.

To transform regrets, ask three self-compassionate questions:

  1. Would you treat a friend with the same regret, kindness, or contempt? Treat yourself with kindness.

  2. Do others experience similar regrets or are you the only one? Recognize that your regret is part of the shared human experience.

  3. Does the regret define your life or represent a moment in time? Be aware of the guilt but keep it distinct from it.

The final step is self-distancing - analyzing the regret from a detached, objective perspective. This helps provide insight and closure. Three ways to self-distance:

  1. Spatial distance: Adopt a "fly-on-the-wall" perspective. View the regret as an observer, not a participant. This helps solve problems and withstand criticism.

  2. Temporal distance: Consider how you might view the regret in the future. This makes the problem seem smaller and easier to address.

  3. Linguistic distance: Refer to yourself in the second or third person. This helps regulate emotions and reframe threats as challenges.

In summary, the three-step process of self-disclosure, self-compassion, and self-distancing can help transform regrets into opportunities for growth and wisdom.

  • Constructively reflecting on our regrets and mistakes can help us move forward. Techniques like self-disclosure, showing self-compassion, and gaining distance from guilt through different perspectives can transform shame into a force for growth.

  • Other valuable techniques include:

  1. Starting a "regret circle" with friends to share regrets and give each other compassion and advice.

  2. Creating a "failure resume" - a written list of our failures and mistakes to help gain perspective.

  3. Studying self-compassion to understand better how to be kind to ourselves.

  4. Pairing New Year's resolutions with "Old Year's regrets" - looking at our regrets from the past year and making resolutions to address them.

  5. Using the "mental subtraction of positive events" technique from It's a Wonderful Life, imagine how life would be without certain good things to gain gratitude and perspective.

  6. Participating in the World Regret Survey to write about and share your regrets. Reading others' regrets helps build regret-reckoning skills.

  7. Adopting a "journey mindset" - focusing on the steps to achieve a goal rather than just the destination. This helps avoid regret for not sustaining progress.

  • The story of Alfred Nobel illustrates how anticipating how we'll be remembered and anticipating future regret can spur positive change. Upon reading his premature obituary describing him as a "merchant of death," Nobel worked to establish the Nobel Prize to honor work that benefited humanity. Anticipating regret moved him to change his legacy.

  • The story of Alfred Nobel anticipating his regret upon reading his premature obituary inspired this chapter on using guilt prospectively.

  • We can predict future regret and change our behavior to avoid it. This approach can guide us toward better choices but also lead us astray at times.

  • Anticipating regret has benefits. It makes us pause and reflect, overcoming regrets of inaction. Studies show it prompts healthy behaviors.

  • Jeff Bezos' "Regret Minimization Framework" had him envision his 80-year-old self making hard choices, like leaving his job to start Amazon.

  • However, anticipating regret has downsides. We often overestimate guilt from small mistakes, like missing a train by a minute. This can lead to anxiety and risk aversion.

  • We also anticipate more regret for inaction than action, even if the steps have worse outcomes. This can promote overconfidence in our choices.

  • Standardized tests and lotteries also show how we misjudge future regret. We'llWe'll regret not buying a ticket more than losing money on the wrong key.

  • The key is balancing the upsides and downsides of anticipating regret. Recognize when it helps versus when it may lead us astray. Make choices based on likely actual outcomes rather than imagined future regret.

  • People are poor at predicting how much regret they will actually experience after a decision. They often overestimate the intensity and duration of guilt. As a result, we may make overly cautious decisions to avoid remorse that we do not need to avoid.

  • Anticipating regret can lead us to make decisions that minimize regret rather than maximize utility or rational choice. For example, in experiments, people are reluctant to trade lottery tickets even when it does not change their odds because they anticipate regretting it if their original ticket wins.

  • The conventional wisdom that you should keep your test answers is misguided. Studies show people are more likely to change from a wrong answer to a right one than vice versa. But students anticipate more regret from changing an answer, so they stick with their first instinct even when it is wrong. This is the "first instinct fallacy."

  • Anticipated regret can improve decision-making by motivating us to consider future consequences. Still, it has dangerous side effects, like decision paralysis, risk aversion, and the first instinct fallacy.

  • Herbert Simon argued that human decision-making is not always aimed at maximizing utility or gain. Sometimes we "satisfice" by settling for good enough options rather than exhaustively seeking the ideal choice. Economists' models had to be revised to account for the human factors Simon identified.

  • The emotional consequences of Simon's two decision modes—maximizing versus satisficing—took time for psychologists to explore. But this work showed that in addition to cognitive factors, emotions like anticipated regret shape our choices between these modes.

In sum, anticipated regret is a double-edged sword. When properly calibrated, it can motivate helpful precautions. But when miscalibrated, it leads to poor choices, irrational risk avoidance, and suboptimal outcomes. Finding the right balance is critical.

Here's a summary:

  • In 2002, researchers developed a personality scale to measure maximizers (those pursuing ideal standards) and satisficers (choosing what meets minimum acceptability). They found that maximizers reported lower well-being. The main reason was maximizers experienced more regret, both in anticipation of choices and looking back on them.

  • Constantly trying to minimize regret can become unhealthy maximizing. The solution is to focus on aspirations and optimize regret. The Regret Optimization Framework has four principles:

  1. Anticipating some regrets leads to better decisions, but overestimating them distorts decisions.

  2. Maximizing regret minimization makes the situation worse.

  3. The four core regrets reveal fundamental human needs: foundation regrets, boldness regrets, moral regrets, and connection regrets. Focus on anticipating these.

  4. For most decisions, satisfice. For crucial decisions involving core regrets, anticipate future regret and choose what most reduces it.

  • To address regrets:

Undo action regrets. At least it. Find the silver lining.

For any regret: Self-disclosure. Relieve by sharing. Self-compassion. Treat yourself with kindness. Self-distancing. Analyze and learn from a distance.

  • A survey found most people believe in both free will and fate. We are both authors and actors in our lives.

  • Regret depends on storytelling and imagination. Our ability to experience and respond to regret depends on constructing and revising narratives.

  • Research shows "redemption sequences," where events go from bad to good, lead to more well-being and meaning than "contamination sequences," where events go from good to bad. Regret offers an ultimate redemption narrative.

  • Regret is a powerful and essential human emotion. Though often viewed negatively, regret serves vital psychological and social functions.

  • Regret helps us learn from our mistakes and make better decisions in the future. It promotes moral and social development by helping us understand how our actions impact others. Regret also fosters resilience by encouraging us to find meaning despite difficult experiences.

  • The ability to feel regret emerges in childhood and develops over time. Young children have limited capacity for shame because it requires sophisticated cognitive skills like mental time travel, counterfactual thinking, and self-reflection. As executive function develops, children gain a deeper understanding of how their actions might have caused harm to others.

  • Regret is a "social glue" that binds us together through shared experiences of remorse, forgiveness, and redemption. Our stories about our regrets and overcoming them can inspire others and bring people together.

  • While regret has many benefits, dwelling on guilt can be psychologically unhealthy. The key is to strike a balance - reflect on regrets in a constructive way without ruminating about what cannot be changed. We can transform shame into wisdom and purpose.

  • Several examples show how people could reconnect with others and find greater meaning after regretting past mistakes and lost time. The capacity for guilt and redemption is profoundly human.

  • In summary, regret is a complex but vital human emotion. Though often misunderstood, regret helps us learn, grow, build relationships, and derive meaning from good and bad life experiences. The benefits of regret far outweigh the costs as long as we reflect on regret adaptively rather than ruminating endlessly about the unchangeable past.

Here is a summary of the notes:

Note Reference 5: Studies have replicated the finding that bronze medalists experience less regret and greater satisfaction than silver medalists. Some studies argue silver medalists may have higher expectations or that their expressions of regret in interviews may differ, but their spontaneous terms of emotion are similar.

Note Reference 6: A Swedish cyclist who won the silver medal at the 2016 Rio Olympics regretted coming so close to gold.

Note Reference 7: Feeling in control and having higher self-esteem can motivate counterfactual thinking. People seek to regulate emotions like regret through counterfactual thinking.

Note Reference 8: People often compare their lives to simulations of what might have been rather than facts. These social comparisons can motivate counterfactual thinking.

The key ideas are:

  1. The bronze medal effect has been replicated, where bronze medalists experience less regret than silver medalists. Some nuance exists in the interpretations and causes of this effect.

  2. Examples show that losing out on a coveted prize like an Olympic gold medal leads to expressions of regret and counterfactual thinking.

  3. Counterfactual thinking is often motivated by a desire to regulate emotions and feel in control or maintain self-esteem. People frequently make social comparisons between their lives and imagined alternatives.

  4. The notes point to many studies on counterfactual thinking, emotion regulation, social comparison, and self-esteem. The examples also show the role of counterfactual thinking in competitive or achievement situations.

In summary, the notes provide an overview of research on the causes and consequences of counterfactual thinking, especially in social or competitive contexts where regret is likely. The examples help illustrate these conceptual insights.

Summarize t 16, no. 1 (2011): 48.

The abstract explores how people can benefit from feeling regret. The authors argue that regret is a functional emotion that helps people make better decisions and find meaning. Rather than ruminating on regret in an unhealthy way, people can use regret to simulate alternative outcomes, prepare for the future, strengthen their commitment to decisions, find benefits in unfortunate events, and gain insight into themselves and their values. The authors review research showing how experiencing regret leads to improved decision-making, performance, and well-being. They argue that accepting regret as a helpful emotion, rather than judging it as consistently wrong, can help people thrive.

Here is a summary of the references:


  • A study shows that counterfactual thinking, or imagining what might have been, creates meaning by highlighting paths not taken.

ERENCE 30: An article about collectors who find beauty in imperfect, damaged objects.


  • Census data from 1953 on life regrets.

REFERENCE 1 (Chapter 5):

  • A 1973 study found that people's top regrets involve education, career, and relationships.

REFERENCE 2 (Chapter 5):

  • A 1992 study showed that counterfactual thoughts about personal decisions often involve regrets about education, career, romance, and finances.

REFERENCE 3 (Chapter 5):

  • A 1989 pilot study found that women's top regrets involve education, career, and relationships.

REFERENCE 4 (Chapter 5):

  • A 1994 study found that regrets about education, career, and relationships predict lower well-being and life satisfaction.

REFERENCE 5 (Chapter 5):

  • A 1992 study found that older adults most regret education, career, and relationship decisions.

REFERENCE 6 (Chapter 5):

  • A 1994 study shows that regrets over actions peak soon after the decision is made, but regrets over inactions increase over time.

REFERENCE 7 (Chapter 5):

  • A 1995 study found that knowledgeable individuals ("Termites") regret missed opportunities and unfulfilled potential, especially in their careers and relationships.

REFERENCE 8 (Chapter 5):

  • A 2005 review found that people's biggest regrets in life center around romance, family, education, and career.

REFERENCE 9 (Chapter 5):

  • A 2011 study found that Americans' most common regrets involve education, career, romance, parenting, and health.

REFERENCE 1 (Chapter 6):

  • References to Chomsky's linguistic concepts of deep structure and surface structure.

REFERENCE 2 (Chapter 6):

  • Chomsky's 1965 book Aspects of the Theory of Syntax.

REFERENCE 1 (Chapter 7):

  • References on hyperbolic discounting and time preference.

REFERENCE 2 (Chapter 7):

  • A 2015 study found that college athletes regret not working hard enough, taking their sport more seriously, and balancing athletics and schoolwork.

REFERENCE 3 (Chapter 7):

  • A reference to Ernest Hemingway's novel The Sun Also Rises.

REFERENCE 4 (Chapter 7):

  • References on exponential growth bias.

REFERENCE 5 (Chapter 7):

  • References on attribution theory and biases.

REFERENCE 1 (Chapter 8):

  • References on the Big Five personality traits and executive selection.

REFERENCE 2 (Chapter 8):

  • Studies show that behaving in an extroverted manner increases positive feelings.

REFERENCE 3 (Chapter 8):

  • Studies show that regrets of inaction tend to amplify over time.

REFERENCE 4 (Chapter 8):

  • Studies show some cultural differences in regrets of action and inaction.

REFERENCE 5 (Chapter 8):

  • Studies show that regrets over missed opportunities tend to increase over time.

REFERENCE 6 (Chapter 8):

  • A quote from Ogden Nash.

REFERENCE 1 (Chapter 9):

  • References to Jonathan Haidt's moral foundation theory.

REFERENCE 2 (Chapter 9):

  • Haidt's 2001 paper proposes the social intuitionist model of moral judgment.

REFERENCE 3 (Chapter 9):

  • A 2009 study showing differences between liberals and conservatives in moral concerns.

REFERENCE 4 (Chapter 9):

  • A review of research supporting moral foundations theory.

REFERENCE 5 (Chapter 9):

  • A review of research supporting moral foundations theory.

REFERENCE 6 (Chapter 9):

  • A summary of moral foundations theory.

REFERENCE 7 (Chapter 9):

  • A reference to a 1929 sociological study of Muncie, Indiana.

REFERENCE 8 (Chapter 9):

  • A quote from Haidt's book The Righteous Mind.


  • A reference to survey data on views on abortion over time.

Here is a summary of the article:

  • According to a Gallup poll, Americans' views on abortion have remained unchanged over the past year.

  • 53% of Americans believe abortion should be legal only under certain circumstances, 29% think it should be permitted, and 18% believe it should be illegal in all cases. These views have stayed within a few percentage points since 2018.

  • There are some demographic differences in views, with women, younger adults, and Democrats more likely to support abortion rights, while Protestants and Republicans are more likely to oppose abortion rights. However, views have remained steady within most groups.

  • Despite some states recently passing laws limiting abortion rights, the prevailing views nationally seem to show Americans still support some access to abortion, but with restrictions and regulations. The overall stability in public opinion suggests the issue is mainly polarized and entrenched.

  • The poll was conducted on a demographically representative sample of over 1,000 U.S. adults with a margin of error of ±4 percentage points.

So, in summary, the article reports the results of a Gallup poll showing that Americans' views on abortion have remained unchanged and polarized over the past year, with a majority continuing to believe abortion should be legal only under certain circumstances. There are some demographic differences in views, but opinions have stayed steady overall.

Here is a summary in anatomical style:

I) Introduction - Self-compassion involves treating oneself with kindness and empathy during difficult times.

II) What is self-compassion? A) Key components 1) Self-kindness: Being gentle and supportive towards oneself rather than harshly self-critical. 2) Common humanity: Recognizing that suffering and failure are part of the shared human experience. 3) Mindfulness: Holding painful thoughts and feelings in balanced awareness without over-identifying with them. B) Self-compassion vs. self-esteem - Self-compassion is different and healthier than self-esteem. High self-esteem depends on evaluations and judgments, but self-compassion does not depend on being special or above average.

III) Benefits of self-compassion A) Psychological well-being - Self-compassion is associated with lower depression and anxiety and greater life satisfaction and Happiness. It helps navigate personal shortcomings and life transitions. B) Better coping and resilience - Self-compassionate people tend to cope with failure and adverse life events more constructively. They have greater resilience and optimism in times of distress. C) Improved relationships - Self-compassion is linked to more compassion for others, social connectedness, and emotional intelligence. Compassionate people have healthier, more mutually supportive relationships. D) Health and longevity - Self-compassion may have significant physical health benefits, including lower blood pressure, heart rate, and stress hormones. Preliminary evidence links self-compassion to longevity and healthy behaviors.

IV) Cultivating self-compassion A) Self-compassion meditation - A helpful practice for developing self-compassion is a form of self-directed Buddhist meditation called "loving-kindness meditation." It involves systematically repeating kind thoughts towards oneself and others. B) Self-compassion journaling - Writing a self-compassionate letter to yourself or keeping a journal where you express kindness towards yourself can help enhance and sustain self-compassion. C) Adopting a self-compassionate mantra -Repeat kind phrases to yourself, e.g., "May I be kind to myself," "This too shall pass," to tap into self-compassion when you need it most. D) Distancing yourself - Taking a "self-distanced" perspective when reflecting on your experiences helps you gain a broader, more compassionate view of yourself and events. Refer to yourself using your name or "you" rather than "I."

V) Conclusion - Self-compassion is a learnable skill that greatly benefits well-being and quality of life. Becoming kinder to ourselves, recognizing our shared humanity, and holding our experiences with more extraordinary gentleness and care is worth the investment. Self-compassion is the radical art of treating ourselves like someone we dearly care about.

Here is a summary of the references from Chapter 14 of the book:

The story of Alfred Nobel being inspired to create the Nobel Prize after reading his premature obituary is murky, though it has been frequently cited. [1]

Researchers have found that anticipated regret can be leveraged to increase survey response rates [2] and participation in health-related behaviors. [3] However, regret appeals only sometimes work. [3]

Prospect theory suggests that people weigh losses more heavily than gains. [4] Studies have found that anticipated regret influences intentions related to COVID-19 testing, [5] vaccination, [6] health behaviors like exercise, [7] improved diet, [8] influenza vaccination, [9] HPV vaccination, [10] and safer sex. [11][12]

Anticipated regret has been shown to increase information seeking [13] and receptiveness to tailored health information. [14] It can also promote safer driving, [15] cervical cancer screening attendance, [16] and reduced teen smoking initiation. [17] Text message interventions using anticipated regret have been shown to decrease processed meat consumption. [18]

Anticipated regret has been linked to increased conservation behaviors [19] and "premortem" planning. [20][21] However, affective forecasting research suggests people may mispredict the regret they will feel after a decision. [22][23][24]

Anticipated regret can make people reluctant to exchange lottery tickets [25][26][27] and influence risk-taking, [28] willingness to negotiate, [29] and consumer choice. [30] Price guarantees may overcome reluctance to buy due to anticipated regret about finding a better deal later. [28]

Here's a summary:

  • According to Merry et al., research on whether students should change their answers on multiple-choice exams is mixed. While some studies suggest changing solutions leads to lower scores due to overthinking easy questions, other research shows changing answers can lead to higher scores, especially if students need more confidence in their initial choice. The key is developing intense metacognition—the ability to accurately assess one's knowledge and the quality of one's answers.

  • According to the Princeton Review, common mistakes students make on test day include: being late or missing the exam; not following directions; leaving questions blank; not using allotted time entirely; not eliminating incorrect answers on multiple-choice questions; not reviewing or revising essay responses; losing focus due to hunger, fatigue or anxiety; not using permitted resources like calculators entirely; and not dressing comfortably for long testing periods. Strategies to avoid these mistakes include preparing thoroughly, arriving early, reading directions carefully, using all time allotted, eliminating incorrect choices, revising responses, staying rested and fed, using permitted resources, and wearing comfortable clothes.

  • In summary, research on answer changing is mixed, but developing intense metacognition and test-taking skills can help students make strategic decisions about revising their answers. Common test-day mistakes are often avoidable by using effective preparation strategies.

Regret domains: moral regrets: 15, 79, 113–29, 203 needs revealed by: 96, 111, 129, 145–46, 150

Regret emotions: depression: 53, 174 disappointment: 22, 94

Regret behaviors: desecration regrets: 127–29 disloyalty regrets: 125–26 escalation of commitment to a failing course of action: 41, 42

Regret lessons: downward counterfactuals (At Least): 38, 42, 45, 46, 47–48
harm-related regrets: 119–22, 163 If Only counterfactuals: 38, 42, 45, 46, 47–48 49, 50, 51 inaction vs. action regrets: 104–5, 151, 152, 154, 161, 192–93, 162, 167, 169, 175, 183, 184, 205 moral foundations theory: 117–19

Regret sources: Dolcos, Sanda: 180 Epley, Nicholas: 140 Epstude, Kai: 33, 136 Gallup polls: 61–62, 63, 68 Gilbert, Daniel: 195–96 Gilovich, Thomas: 33, 35, 63–64, 104, 151 Graham, Jesse: 116–17 Grant Study: 141–43, 144 Grossmann, Igor: 179, 180 Haidt, Jonathan: 116–17, 126 Haselton, Martie: 155 Hedgcock, William: 36 Het Spijt Me (TV show): 161–62 Higgins, Tory: 151
Huang, Szu-chi: 186 humans, study on what they value most: 169 If Only counterfactuals: 38, 42, 45, 46, 47–48 James, William: 51–52 Johansson, Emma: 30, 31, 32, 33, 36–37 Jones, Benjamin: 47 journey mindset: 185–86 Kahneman, Daniel: 14 Khera, Amit: 168 Kinnier, Richard: 63 Klemick, Joel: 114, 124–25 Knobler, Amy: 133–35, 137, 139, 145 Kray, Laura: 43, 48 Kross, Ethan: 178, 179, 180 Kruger, Justin: 199–200 Ku, Gillian: 41 Landman, Janet: 22, 63 Launders, Doug: 107 loss aversion: 192 Luangrath, Andrea: 36 Lynd, Helen: 119 Lynd, Robert: 119 Lyubomirsky, Sonja: 103, 170 Madey, Scott: 33, 35 Manis, Jean: 63 Margolis, Seth: 103 Markman, Keith: 43, 45 Markowitz, Harry: 11–12 Matsumoto, David: 35–36 Mayo, Michele: 25–26 McAdams, Dan: 209

Here is a summary of the descriptions of specific regrets from the passage:

  • Harm-related regrets: Causing harm to others, either intentionally or unintentionally. These include physically hurting someone or damaging a relationship.

  • Marital infidelity regrets: Cheating on one's spouse or partner.

  • Stealing regrets: Regretting acts of theft or dishonesty.

  • Desecration regrets: Disrespecting or violating something sacred.

  • Disloyalty regrets: Betraying or acting disloyally towards someone, often a friend or partner.

  • Subversion of authority regrets: Going against a person in a position of authority, like a parent, teacher, or boss.

  • Opportunity failures: Failing to take advantage of opportunities when they arise, often due to fear, laziness, or distraction. These lead to regret over missing out.

The passage also notes that regrets can reveal unmet stability, trust, and growth needs. Processing regret in a healthy way can provide lessons and motivate positive change. Techniques for relieving regret include self-compassion, self-disclosure, self-distancing, reframing situations, and undoing regrets through apology and forgiveness.

Purpose of:

  • Third-person references: Used for self-distancing to gain a broader perspective on one's regrets. Third-person language such as "he," "she," or one's name can create psychological distance.

Time travel:

  • In the regret process: We mentally travel back to replay and reevaluate past events. This can intensify feelings of regret.

  • For self-distancing: We can take an observer's perspective as if watching our past self from the outside. This "time-traveling observer" can gain insightful reflections on our regrets.

The Top Five Regrets of the Dying: A book by Bronnie Ware describing the common regrets of hospice patients at the end of their lives.

Travel regrets: Missing opportunities to travel and experience other places and cultures.

Undoing action regrets: Regretting actions that cannot be undone, such as accidentally causing harm to others. These regrets can be particularly painful and difficult to remedy.

Writing about regret: Expressing one's feelings about guilt through writing. This can be an effective way to gain awareness and closure on regrets. Responses from the World Regret Survey suggest that writing about regrets is helpful.

The summary reflects the key elements around the purpose of third-person references, time travel, The Top Five Regrets of the Dying, travel regrets, undoing action regrets, and writing about shame. Let me know if you want me to clarify or expand on any part of this summary.


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