Daniel Pink has always been an inspiration for me, as a writer and as a human. In each of his books, he focuses on one aspect of the human experience. He holds up a magnifying glass, so we can all peer through to see what the science says about how our minds work and how we might benefit from exploring each topic with fresh eyes.
In Drive, he studied motivation. In When, he studied timing and productivity. In To Sell Is Human, he explored persuasion and connection. And in his most recent book, The Power of Regret, he polled over 17,000 people from all over the world to find out what people regret and how those regrets inform our lives.
(Ms. Moon, here, has a few regrets she could learn from. In this case, she wisely chose not to eat either my books or my plants.)
Through his survey, Pink found most regrets fall into one of four categories:
Foundation regrets - If only I had completed my education, chosen a different career, or taken care of my health.
Boldness regrets - I wish I had taken a risk, spoken up, or moved to a new city.
Moral regrets - I regret lying, cheating, bullying, or betraying someone.
Connection regrets - I wish I had reached out to someone I loved or hurt, showed up in their time of need, or told them how I felt.
His research shows that, if processed and learned from, regrets can enrich our lives by illuminating what matters to us and helping us refocus our efforts and choices on supporting those values in future decisions. He writes, "If we know what people regret the most, we can reverse that image to reveal what they value the most."
I hear regrets from my clients all the time—many of them related to health and work—but many are also related to time and energy spent trying to control their bodies and habits, instead of enjoying themselves, their experiences, and the people around them.
In the end, the book proposes a three-step process to learn and grow from regrets. He recommends disclosing the regret to someone you trust (or who may have been impacted by it), reframing it to approach yourself and past decisions with compassion (like you might for a friend), and getting some distance from it to see what lessons you can take about how you'd like to do it differently in the future.
I find my clients are frequently able to do exactly that. Speaking up in a safe, judgment-free environment takes the sting out of regrets and frees people to determine what comes next.
Since the present inevitably becomes the past, I wonder if there's something you're doing right now that contributes to your health, something you enjoy and might regret giving up if you were to let it slide.
I'm guessing you've got a healthy habit (or two) that keeps you balanced. In my last letter, I asked what "bad" habits you want to keep as purposeful coping mechanisms. So this week, I'm curious:
What healthy habits do you want to continue and why? How are they enriching your life?
So much time and energy is spent trying to fix the things we think we're doing wrong. It's interesting to spend a little brainpower on what we're doing right—right now—and what a difference it can make in the long run.
You can find Daniel Pink's new book HERE. It's a great read, especially if you've got some regrets nagging at you.
Wishing you a peaceful week,
I was grateful to the person who sent this question for pushing me to dive deeper into the research behind intermittent fasting. If you're a long-time reader, you know diets like this aren't exactly my speed, but some folks swear by them. Turns out, there is evidence for both healthy and unhealthy side effects.
"As a health coach, I always defer to my clients’ instincts about when and how to eat, especially when they’re healthy and tuned into their bodies. I offer the science in this article to help inform your decision, but, ultimately, only you know what works for you."
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Past posts can be found HERE.