Which do you say more to yourself, “If only" or "at least?"
Studies show that for most people, it's "If only." We can have so many regrets.
Daniel Pink writes in “The Power of Regret, how Looking Backwards Moves Us Forward” that regret is like living in a fantasy. We go backwards in time, revisit what happened, and invent a different world that we would exist in if things had gone differently.
The fantasy part of this is that we have a solid picture in our minds of how things would be different, but we can't predict what actually would have happened. We don't know.
And yet, we hang all of our sad emotions on that turning point. We keep thinking, “If only.”
Pink discussed multiple scientific studies in which they measured the facial expressions of Olympic medal winners. Time and time again, the gold medalists and the bronze medalists exhibited more joy than the silver medalists. The photo in this post is of silver medalists in the 2012 Games.
The conclusion from these results is that the silver medalists were plagued with thoughts of, “If only I had tried a little harder, I would have won the gold.” The bronze medalists were fired up, because, “At least I got a medal!”
This is such an powerful illustration, because we know they should ALL be celebrating. Could it be the same for us?
Let's flip the switch on our thoughts! Every time we catch ourselves saying, "If only," let's replace it with an "at least."
I'm not saying to not have regrets. Regrets can be good. That’s the main idea of Pink’s book. Processing our regrets in a positive way will help us learn to be our best selves.
But we don’t want to get hung up on how it could have been better, when we don't really know. It also could have been worse!
Let's celebrate more, because we're only are where we are by the grace of God.
“Give thanks in every circumstance, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” I Thes 5:18