Statements such as I’ll try my best not to regret it,” and I’ll spend my time wisely so as not to have any regrets are stale remarks that we often hear. Some think that they can obtain a great deal of satisfaction by living a life with no regrets. As they strive for such a life, however, they tend to reach for a pipe dream, and eventually end up making an irreversible mistake thereby living a dissatisfactory life filled with regrets.
Regret and satisfaction are respectively related to two different regions of the brain; the two are totally different emotions. While regret stems from comparison, satisfaction is gained directly from an object. That is, one cannot obtain satisfaction by comparing oneself to another. On the other hand, remarks such as no responsibility or lack of task fulfillment are subject to comparison. Thus, as long as one only aims to live a life without regrets in other words, a life insensitive to comparison he or she is not seeking to obtain any satisfaction or happiness.
As such, one should distinguish the sphere of regretless life from that of a satisfactory life before trying to catch those two birds. The so-called advices such as regretless life will bring you satisfaction, or live a life without regrets, and you’ll be happy are nothing but illusions fabricated by cognitive misers. Despite that, some still believe they will be satisfied someday if they continue eliminating regrets from their lives. Such misconception lures them into a dark path where they dream of that which cannot be achieved.
Eventually, at one point, they are bound to make false steps and mishaps, and live a regretful life thenceforth.
In Thomas Hoepker’s Portugal, 1964, an old man is sitting upright at the table with a lot of food in front of him, surrounded by household objects in the background. Judging from his appearance, he could be an office worker, perhaps a head of a department, and it seems that he is having a comfortable life. However, his grey, wan face reveals the strong dissatisfaction and frustration in the present moment. His face seems calm, but it also suggests that the presence of shock and regret underneath his skin. He probably lived a fiercely competitive life up until now, believing he would be able to obtain satisfaction by living a regretless life. Nevertheless, as shown in the photo, his excessive effort and passion towards such a life have likely caused him to dream of what cannot be achieved, which probably led him to making an egregious and irrevocable mistake in his later years.
Looking at a photo Portugal, 1964, it brought my memories back and the image of my father kept going through my mind. My father is a businessman. He is a diligent and earnest man who does not waste time, always trying to live a regretless life. I remember that he was always busy all week. He would work from Monday to Friday, do volunteer work at an orphanage on Saturday, and spend time with my family on Sunday. Unfortunately, he was always dissatisfied with his life and was so hard on himself. In particular, he always had a strong desire for material gain. He had enough money for a decent life and he could just live happily with what he had at the moment, but as he tried to live a life free of regrets, he began to cultivate his material ambitions. My dad worked in a business of import and export, and one day he heard a good investment plan from an acquaintance of him.
However, they were a little short of money to invest in and started putting their hands on stocks, which he had never done before. His stock investment didn’t go well and he had to spend money on other contracts, so his original contract was on the verge of being abrogated. After failing with stocks for almost a year, he worked 12 hours a day to make money and stopped his volunteer work. He inflated his greed under the pretext of living without regret, and ended up living a year full of regrets for what he had done. By seeing my father’s mistake, I have realized that if we tried to live an aimless life with no regrets, we will put efforts in a wrong place which will lead an absurd dream. As a result, individual will make a big mistake some point in their lives and place them in a worse place where they lose the satisfaction.