I’ve been reading Mark Manson’s Monday email newsletter (available here) for a few weeks now. Since I have brain fog today, but I didn’t want to give up on trying to create a daily writing habit, I will reply to Mark’s newsletter for the first time.
Today’s topic was regret. Lately I’ve been into strength-based coaching, (the Cliffton 34 strengths include one called “connectedness”) connectedness means “you never regret anything because you see fate as interconnected,” my husband has always held that belief, and I never have. My husband believes that if anything in the past was changed, the future would be different, that if he hypothetically did something before we met, we wouldn’t have met, married, and had our children he loves. I have never believed that (but I realize it doesn’t matter much since it’s hypothetical). I do believe in fate to a certain extent (while knowing it’s not proven and perhaps not provable). The way some people win the lotto multiple times makes me wonder if there is fate? Since it is very improbable, yet we know someone who keeps winning it and have also read about others in newspapers…
- How to deal with regrets,
- How meaning is prevalent in today’s zeitgeist,
- How ideas can be wrong and right at the same time.
First what do I regret? 1. Dating the guys, I dated before my husband (I am not mad at myself, I just wish I had saved the mental energy for the one that mattered to me in the end). I didn’t learn much from my relationships, I hear a lot of people say each relationship “teaches you so much,” but for me, I feel it just took away energy that I could have used for studying, writing, art or martial arts (pretty much following my own dreams and getting to know myself), if I could go back without messing up the future I totally would go back and spend more time focusing on personal growth rather than dating people who would not gain me anything I’m currently aware of having gained. 2. Not saving, I made a lot of money in my college years, but I always believed it wouldn’t be worth saving just a little bit, because I thought I would make much more later and therefore, “save faster” in that time of my life that never ended up happening. I would have liked to have saved half of the “fun” purchases and eating out; even if I didn’t have more now, I would feel better about the way I managed my resources. 3. I regret being rude to my loved ones so much. It’s kind of normal, but normal doesn’t mean the best use of a limited time on Earth. 4. I regret not playing more music, just for fun, I would learn instead to impress people that I doubt were impressed anyway, but I don’t regret the music itself. 5. I regret not recognizing that I loved writing earlier since it had been life long. 6. I regret believing family members say that I couldn’t do X, Y, Z; I crushed my dreams with the rocks of their criticism for many years, but I understand now that it was always by my own hand.
How to Deal with Regrets:
1. I don’t let go of my regrets, they tell me what I would have wanted, what directions my hopes are in, they don’t hurt me, they don’t haunt me, they inspire me to avoid the same mistakes. A reasonable amount of natural shame is a good teacher. I think that regrets are reasonable, and shame is perhaps the slightly different concept that is unnecessary. Regretting a mistake makes sense to me, being ashamed of making mistakes is unneeded because all humans err, that is what it is to be human.
The Quest for Meaning:
2. It seems like many people are seeking meaning (not everyone, in my family it’s less than half, more like a third). I think it is because we, as modern humans, have so much information. We are regularly exposed to many things going wrong, many new things going right, and people who want attention by unethical means such as scare tactics and misinformation. I think it’s normal to want to find the meaning in each new batch of information we find, yet the amount of information we are exposed to jams our brain like an overused office printer (at least it does for me). For me finding meaning isn’t hard, but it lies in action. I find twice the meaning in action as I do in thought, yet thinking elevates the human capacity to improve life in it’s own way, and I highly respect it as well. I think the trap in today’s world is overthinking and not taking enough real sustainable, immediate action, in action, I almost always find meaning under the sweat of experience.
Gray Area (The Idea, that Ideas can be Simultaneously Wrong and Right):
3. There is obviously a lot of gray area in life, but I don’t like the idea that “many experts on both sides are debating something” negates evidence. No prescription fits everyone, but everyone’s lungs get black from smoking. I was listening to “If Our Bodies Could Talk” (James Hamblin) today, and it is very immoral the way public health officials can be bought, and people’s lives are damaged by other people’s greed for a profit from non-functional cures. I understand complex causes and unclear links, but at the same time, there are evil things, toxic things, clear links, and spades in this world that people seem to be afraid to call spades anymore.
In Mark Manson’s newsletter today, he said, “There are few things in this world that are either completely wrong or completely right—especially when it comes to human psychology. With most human knowledge, we seem to be hopelessly relegated to the murky middle.”
I disagree, I think many things like the world being flat are completely wrong, and that even though human psychology is complicated, it is not impossibly complicated. I think there will be a lot of definite information about human psychology soon (because of functional MRIs and other types of advanced technology, including the focus of great minds). I really enjoyed the book “How Emotions are Made” (Lisa Feldman Barrett), documentary “The Life of the Brain” (John Medina) and show “The Brain” (with David Eagleman). Between those three resources, I feel like I deeply understand (at least a basic level) the way human psychology works and that it is evidence-based and accurate.
Wishing you a wonderful week, I think there is a lot of truth and beauty in this world for those with open eyes and open minds! -Sakura 🌸