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What are life’s biggest regrets?

Much can also be learned about how to make good life decisions by asking people what their biggest regrets are. Regret is a negative emotion you feel when reflecting on past decisions and wishing you had done something differently.

In 2012, Australian caregiver Bronnie Ware wrote a book about her experiences in palliative care. There were five regrets that dying people told her about most often:

  • I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me
  • I wish I hadn’t worked so hard
  • I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings
  • I wish I’d stayed in touch with my friends
  • I wish I had let myself be happier.

This anecdotal evidence has received support from more rigorous academic research. For example, a 2011 study asked a nationally representative sample of 270 Americans to describe one significant life regret. The six most commonly reported regrets involved romance (19.3%), family (16.9%), education (14.0%), career (13.8%), finance (9.9%), and parenting (9.0%).

Although lost loves and unfulfilling relationships were the most common regrets, there was an interesting gender difference. For women, regrets about love (romance/family) were more common than regrets about work (career/education), while the reverse was true for men.

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cisions about your Relationship with Sexual Energy in Adulthood

Life is peculiar. Any issues we might have, tend to constellate in the area of sexuality.

Try as we might to appear perfect in our everyday lives, shame, repression, and evasion will still present themselves in the sexual part of our lives.

Sexuality is an earthly system of energy that provides us with an opportunity to discover who we truly are and witness all the many aspects of ourselves.

Though sex doesn’t have to be a part of every person’s life in adulthood, for most of us sensuality is a vital aspect of our earthly experience.

In this sense, every adult within a committed relationship has a responsibility to be the best lover they can be and to continually improve.

This is a decision one makes. It doesn’t happen on its own.

3: Exercising More

Exercise can actually be bad for you if you do it the wrong way. So see a doctor before you begin any exercise program. Michael Greenberg/Photodisc/Thinkstock

Exercise is undeniably a good thing … but it’s also possible to have too much of a good thing. Let’s start with yoga, a low-impact workout practiced by an estimated 20 million Americans. In yoga studios across the country, uninitiated students are put through the standard paces of downward-facing dog and basic inversions like headstands. But some top yogis argue that even basic yoga positions can cause serious injury to people with existing health problems like back or joint issues [source: Broad].

And what about those marathon runners, the very model of physical fitness and endurance? A number of recent studies have shown that extreme endurance training can actually damage the heart. The prolonged cardiovascular stress of running a marathon can cause problems like arrhythmia (irregular heartbeat), calcification and even scarring. According to the research, there’s a limit to how much the heart can be pushed before it sustains damage. The culprit appears to be inflammation of the heart tissue during prolonged endurance training [source: Collier Cool].

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Another inconvenient truth of exercise: It’s not a great way to lose weight. Major changes in diet — avoiding carbohydrates, sugars and starchy foods — will do much more to slim your waistline than walking briskly on the treadmill for 30 minutes a day [source: Bowden]. While an hour of vigorous daily exercise has proven effective for maintaining weight loss, exercise alone isn’t the most efficient way to shed unwanted pounds.

2.How to Manage Your Daily Anxiety

Another key decision children make is how to self-soothe.

Children are able to see how the caretakers in their life, and the culture at large, handle daily, low-level anxiety. A child will then decide (unconsciously, usually before the age of 6) how he or she will handle it, too.

We all have different ways of getting our “stroke needs” met.

And, really, as long as it’s not immoral or unethical, perhaps each method for managing anxiety is valid.

After all, personal growth is a journey through which we explore and experiment with new ways to self-soothe, replacing older methods with newer ways that prove even more effective:

  • some adults use things as a way to anesthetize tension – television, romance novels, sugar, wine… you name it. Some even use habitual anger as a way to try to expel the anxiety that resides within.
  • some adults use nature as a means of metabolizing the inevitable little stresses that present themselves throughout a typical day. They pause, take deep slow breaths, and then visualize a happy place in nature; or, they exercise – they have their routine of a morning walk or a pre-dinner run.
  • perhaps most effectively, some adults use healthy relationships as a way to soften life’s hardness. There are few things more soothing then confiding in a kind, patient friend – being able to share with them the highs and lows of your week, and then have them do the same, is one of life’s most positive experiences.

How to manage daily anxiety is among the most important of your life’s decisions.

Final Thoughts

Some decisions in life are harder to make, but with these 7 pieces of advice, you can trust yourself more even when you’re making some of the most important decisions.

Making a decision is the only way to move forward. So remember, any decision is better than none at all.

Featured photo credit: Justin Luebke via unsplash.com

Let’s try a different reality.

Say you’ve graduated university, and one day you’re at a stop light. You get a text inviting you to go on a commune. You’ve always wanted to go on a commune, but never got the chance to. You think about what people would say about you: “Wow, they just graduated with a computer science degree and decide to do that? What a freak.” You think about the look on your mother’s face when she blames herself for your choices. You think about the 20 jobs you just applied to last week that could call you with a job, you never know.

You delete the text and walk into the street. You’re hit by a car and die. You were only 22.

Every choice is a 50/50. Things could go amazing, and life could open up to you. But things could also go really wrong, and cut your time on this earth short. You could have easily flipped the endings on those two scenarios if you wanted. Anything could have happened.

What’s the real difference between the 2 scenarios? On one hand, you saw an opportunity to do something you really wanted to do, and with a joy filled heart, went forward and made a decision that made you happy.

On the other hand, you saw an opportunity to do something you really wanted to do, and talked yourself down immediately. But hey, at least you didn’t disappoint anyone.

Why do we do this to ourselves? 

Because we spend too much time thinking about how others want us to live instead of us making choices that make us happy.

There are some decisions that are hard to make, and make us feel bad when we make them. But this doesn’t have to be the story with every decision. Here are 3 simple steps you can take to start making decisions that are free from regret:

6: Climbing the Corporate Ladder

Sometimes the view from top is worse than the view from the bottom. iStockphoto/Thinkstock

There is a mindset in corporate America that if you aren’t moving forward, you’re falling behind. The idea of progress in a corporate career is to get promoted, or at least get a significant raise. To tread water in the same position at the same salary is a sign of failure. Before you base your life satisfaction on the title on your cubicle wall, remember that they call it a "rat race" for a reason.

Why might a promotion be overrated? For starters, some people are very happy in their current position and have no interest in managing a team, attending tons of meetings, or traveling every other week. For those employees, it’s smarter to say you are flattered by offers of promotion but feel you can contribute more to the company in your current position [source: Tahmincioglu]. It doesn’t hurt to ask for the raise, though.

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Other people find the very idea of a corporate work environment creatively stifling and emotionally draining. The answer for many such folks is to ditch the rat race and launch their own business. Sometimes it takes one of the other life events on our list, like getting married or having a baby, to trigger the entrepreneurial spirit [source: Pierce]. But if the finances fall into place, the result — being your own boss and getting paid to do something you actually like — can be more satisfying than the most coveted corner office.

6. Maintain a Flexible Approach

I know this might sound counter-intuitive, but making a decision doesn’t mean that you can’t be open to other options.

For example, let’s say you made the decision to lose ten pounds by next month through cardio. If something comes up, you don’t have to just do cardio. You can be open to losing weight through different methods of dieting as long as it helps you reach your goal in the end.

Don’t be stubborn to seek out only one way of making a decision. Embrace any new knowledge that brings you closer to accomplishing your initial decision.

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