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How to Use Your Regrets for Good

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Not too long ago, Daniel Pink, the bestselling social psychology author, made an observation that seemed to speak to our national mindset: There are more than 50 books in the U.S. Library of Congress with the title No Regrets. Living without regret, he felt, had become a uniquely American mantra. In his new book, The Power of Regret, Pink proceeds from that national obsession with positivity: “A good life has a singular focus (forward) and an unwavering valence (positive),” he writes. “Regret perturbs both. It is backward-looking and unpleasant—a toxin in the bloodstream of happiness.” But it’s impossible to avoid regret, Pink says. In fact, he argues, regret is a distinguishing feature of humanity, since it involves an aptitude for narrative storytelling and mental time travel that only humans possess. We should embrace our regrets—and learn from them.

In an attempt to better understand this most beguiling emotion, Pink conducted a survey, polling more than 16,000 people in 105 countries about the moments in life they’d come to regret. “When people tell you their regrets, they’re simultaneously telling you what they value,” Pink says. “So it’s this interesting thing where this chorus of 16,000 people are saying, ‘Hey, this is what a good life is.’” But living that good life requires taking a hard look at our past mistakes—thus going against society’s “No Regrets” dictum. Pink hopes his book can change the cultural conversation around regret and help readers recognize how looking backward can help us move forward.

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Photo-illustration by Michael Houtz

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Click the link below for the article:

https://www.gq.com/story/daniel-pink-the-power-of-regret?utm_source=pocket_discover

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