in: Intentional Living

Using Gratitude to Ditch Regret & Live in the Now

Guest Contributor

Living in the present is a powerful self-care tool we can implement day to day, but how can we ditch regret that wants to hold on? Gratitude, of course!


Living in the present is a powerful self-care tool we can implement day to day, but how can we ditch regret that wants to hold on? Gratitude, of course.It’s easy to dwell on past mistakes—what we could have or should have done—but those experiences shape who we are. The trick is to use them to grow. One of the easiest and most profound ways to accept where you are in the here and now, and move forward with peace, is to practice gratitude.

By that I do not mean a fleeting moment of appreciation or an intellectual thought of “I’m grateful for that experience with him/her, because it made me who I am today…” then only to fall back into anger, resentment, regret, or longing. I mean accessing a deep inner experience of gratitude—one that can transform your entire state of being and uplift you in moments you feel down.

Gratitude and self-acceptance are key ingredients to radiant living and paving the way for healing, fulfilling, new relationships moving forward. It can be easy in the world of personal growth to get caught in over-analyzing our perceived past mistakes or hurt, but staying centered in the present moment and feeling truly grateful for everything you do have is a totally free and profound way to release your ties to regret.

With that in mind, here are a few tips to stop regretting the things you can’t change and to focus instead on how to live now.

Here are 10 choices you can make to ditch regret in life and stop dwelling on the past:

1. Own your weirdness.

Embrace what makes you different, and use it to your advantage. You are the only you in the whole world. In terms of supply and demand, you’re a hot commodity—treat yourself as such! Be grateful for the experiences only you have had in your life that have shaped you into who you are today, and now the unique perspective you can offer to the world.

2. Relinquish self-consciousness.

It’s impossible to control other people’s opinions of you. You could spend your whole life trying to make a good impression and you’d still fail eventually. Stop wasting time trying to please people whose opinions matter less than your own. Make the choices that feel right to you, and your self-confidence will grow.

3. Follow the three-second rule.

Not that three-second rule. Any time you’re tempted to respond out of anger or pain, take three seconds to calm down and think about how you’ll feel if you hurt someone else. It’s never worth it, and it’ll save you a lot of future regret.

4. Don’t spend time with people you don’t like.

It sounds obvious, but how often do you attend parties or functions because you “should” attend? Time is our most precious resource and not to be wasted on activities or people we don’t love. At the end of their lives, people most often regret not having spent more time with their loved ones. Prioritize them now. You’ll always be glad you did.

5. Love your work.

We spend more hours at work than anywhere else. If it drains you, bores you, or makes you unhappy, it’s the wrong job. If you’re not sure what you love to do, take some time for self-reflection. If you already are, now is the time to start taking steps toward that dream. What’s holding you back?

6. Honor your mistakes.

Mistakes are lessons. Failing is not something to beat yourself up over. it’s something to celebrate. It means you tried. Learn your lesson, forgive yourself, and move on. Using a simple shift of perspective can help you in moments where you begin to rag on yourself for past mistakes, especially in relationships. Speak to yourself as you would your best friend—with kindness, compassion, and understanding—when thinking about your “mistakes.”

7. Stop seeking praise.

Doing anything with the expectation of glory almost inevitably leads to disappointment and bitterness. The way you invest your time should be determined by your pleasure and satisfaction in the activity itself. Beyond that, positive opinions become a bonus and negative ones become irrelevant.

8. Follow through.

Making empty promises and assurances hurts and disappoints the people you love. Keep your word, whenever possible. On the rare occasions something unavoidable comes up, explain the situation and try to offer an alternative. This makes people feel prioritized, even when you have to bail.

9. Treat your body well—it’s the only one you get.

You know how on airplanes they tell you to put your own oxygen mask on before helping anyone else? Apply that concept to your health in general. You’re a much better, more productive person when you take care of yourself.

10. Practice gratitude, for things big and small.

No matter how bad things seem at a given moment, there is always something to be grateful for. Did you have clean drinking water today? Food in your refrigerator? Consciously considering all of the things you are grateful for can make the negative seem smaller and less overwhelming. Time spent wishing for what you don’t have is wasted. Time spent appreciating the present pays dividends.

Coming from a state of deep appreciation for whatever life is bringing to you in this present moment can help you release the entanglements of the past that can keep you feeling stuck and afraid. Fear of the past repeating itself or fear of the unknown is natural when moving forward with anything in life—especially new relationships—but keeping your focus centered on gratitude for everything you have experienced and the lessons gained from the past is a helpful way to ditch your regret and move forward with an open heart and open mind.


About the Author

Dr. Danielle Dowling is a leading Doctor of Psychology, life coach, and speaker who helps people release limitations and re-introduces them to the dreams they’d forgotten or put on the shelf. If you want clarity on what you truly want, pinpoint and clear away the obstacles and patterns that are holding you back, and create the harmonious, successful, and radiant life you’ve always desired…. you’re in the right place. Learn more about Danielle at Danielle-Dowling.com

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