No Regrets: 10 Ways to Start Each Day with a Clean Slate
By Tamara Lechner
“Forget regret, or life is yours to miss”—Jonathan Larson
There’s a Buddhist parable called The Second Arrow. The story explains that in life, pain is inevitable. You will experience the pain of loss, betrayal, diagnosis, or grief. The pain is likened to being shot by an arrow and is outside of your personal control. However, when you get stuck pulling on the arrow and complaining about the arrow to show people that you have been shot, the subsequent pain, anger, and suffering is entirely your fault. This is the second arrow.
Living a fully present life keeps you from rehashing your mistakes, your breakups, and the job you should have taken. It allows peace of mind. You may know this already and yet pain from the past intrudes on your present- day happiness. Here are a few tips to help you avoid the second arrow.
1. Practice Gratitude
Being truly grateful keeps you in the moment. When you focus your attention on something or someone, your feelings of reverence will keep you in the moment. Gratitude (http://www.chopra.com/articles/how-to- develop-a-gratitude-mindset) happens in the now, no matter when the experience that you are grateful for actually happened.
Getting in the moment takes practice. Concentrating on what is right in front of my nose is not an easy task when thoughts and events are whirring through my mind and in front of my eyes. But when that happens I feel yucky. And when I feel yucky I thank those feelings for coming, let them know they are not serving me, then ask them to leave. That takes effort as well but is part of getting back in the moment. When those feelings are whisked away in the clouds I am once again present…for that I am grateful.
2. Make a No “What Ifs” Rule
Spinning on what might have been keeps you from moving forward. Your thoughts may seem to circle back again and again to the things you think you could or should have done differently. When you catch yourself thinking a “what if,” just recognize that you didn’t and move forward.
As I age my energy seems less. So the energy that I can scoop together I choose to use in a positive way. Why would I want to zap it all up by wallowing in the past of “what if’s”? Also the disc space in my brain is about full. I need to free up some space by deleting and trashing information that I no longer use, nor need. So I make more disc space by relinquishing the regrets and resentments that I might be holding on to, again, into the clouds. Ta Da! Lots of room now for the adventures and learnings I am supposed to experience today!
3. Reframe Your Past to Make You the Hero in Your Life Story
You may tell your story in a way that doesn’t paint a flattering picture. Try to rethink your scenario in a way that has you in a position of power. For example, if you regret not going to college, instead of continuing to tell a story of regret, decide to either make a plan to get to college or to tell a story that supports the path you chose instead.
I entered sobriety with such guilt and shame and “incomprehensible demoralization”. I actually hated myself and wondered why I was even taking space on the planet. Lo and behold, I today have come to terms with those feelings of self-loathing and realize now that was the journey necessary for me to get where I am today. Today I have purpose. Today I have peace. Today I “get to” share my experience, strength, and hope with others who are in that dark place of self hate, confusion or hopelessness.
4. Get Physical
Take a dance class or a yoga class, or give surfing or rollerblading a go. When you choose an activity that requires your focus to balance or to learn a sequence of motions, your brain will be busy doing something other than ruminating on your past.
It works! I am not a health nut but I have found that getting out of this chair and getting my blood flowing works wonders on my mental wellbeing. This is such common sense but is way harder for me to do than letting go of my shitty thoughts. I feel like I can carry the weight of the world on my shoulders after a yoga class, meditation or a hike in the woods. I’ve got to stop making excuses and put “physical” on my To-Do List.
5. Make a To-Do List
Having a plan for today keeps you from feeling ungrounded. If you fill your day with meaningful tasks (http://www.chopra.com/articles/5-reasons-to-never-ditch-your-to-do-list), you will have something to keep you from falling back into the pattern of regret.
My To-Do List, just like yours, runs off the page. But I’ve disciplined myself to not get overwhelmed with this list and strive to check off just three To-Do’s per day. This seems to work for me as most days I can accomplish way more than just three things. But on the days that it’s a struggle to get anything done, three things is not such a big deal.
6. Go Outside
Nature is like a natural reset button on your brain. The chemicals it releases when you get fresh air and sunshine help to overcome the ones released when you are sad, angry, or anxious. Use nature to sweep away the negative.
I am so grateful to live in Hawaii. Most of my day, everyday, all year round, is spent outdoors. “Hey, wait a minute. That’s not fair,” you say. “Life isn’t always fair” is what I taught my kids. Besides, living on the Big Island with Madam Pele’s plumes of poisonous gases isn’t all fun and games. Feel better?
I do still spend as much time as I can outdoors until my eyes burn and throat feels scratchy. There is something magical about feeling the wind (God wrapping His arms around me) and hearing the birds. I can’t get that from the mole hole of indoor living. Now go outside!
7. Remember, Happiness is a Choice
In every moment, you have the choice to be happy. Victor Frankl, Austrian neurologist and psychiatrist who survived the Holocaust and founded the “Third Viennese School of Psychotherapy,” is quoted as saying, “Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.” If you are choosing regret as a pattern, consciously make the decision to replace regret with a different emotion. Happiness (http://www.chopra.com/articles/where-do-you-stack-up-on-the-happiness-scale), hope, excitement, or curiosity are a few good ones.
I choose to live in a “glass half full” state of mind. When negativity comes my way, I turn it into a positive. Living with optimism and hope changes not only my mindset, but my physical and spiritual wellbeing. Life is too short, energy is too precious, and brain disc space is too limited to fill it with negative.
8. Start with a Mantra or Affirmation
If your day begins with a thought like, “Today is the first day of the rest of my life” or “I’m excited for what today will bring,” it keeps your focus on the present and future. Choose a positive affirmation (http://www.chopra.com/articles/daily-affirmations-your-hour-by-hour-positivity-plan) to start each day.
When I found myself in a treatment program for alcoholism, one of the exercises we did each morning before meditation was to repeat an affirmation aloud to the group. The affirmation I chose was “I am a good person. I am a whole person.”
If you recall from above, before getting sober I felt anything but good nor whole. I was a piece of shit who hated herself for not being able to go a day without drinking. I had no self-control nor self- will. I would look in the mirror and say, “Loser.” I hated that the drink was more important than my kids. It was my life. I was exhausted living a life of hiding, cheating, deception and lying. I couldn’t go on any longer. Thank God I didn’t kill myself or anyone else.
Today I am so thankful for that affirmation and still repeat it to get myself back in the moment of gratitude and humility. It brings me back in the moment and to a Power Greater Than Myself. I finally feel good about myself, who and what I am, my journey. It all happened perfectly, just the way it was supposed to. “I am a good person. I am a whole person.”
9. End with a Highlight Reel
Getting to sleep can be difficult if your thoughts keep circling to what could have been. Try counting your blessings instead of counting sheep. It makes for a nice transition from waking to sleeping state and sets your mind up to begin positively the next morning.
I start my day with thanking my Higher Power for the journey we will take together today, that He is in control and I am not. I am just along for the ride to experience and learn from the events I am supposed to encounter today. I just ask to do my best, to be mindful and respectful, compassionate and loving. His will; not mine.
I end my day by reviewing today’s events and being thankful for doing my best and the “we” of my Higher Power and me.
10. Avoid Comparing
Social media like Facebook or LinkedIn has a way of showing you the highlight reel of your friends’ lives. Make sure you don’t compare their highlights (http://www.chopra.com/articles/comparing-yourself-again-4-tips-to- survive-social-media-envy) to your unedited version.
Life isn’t a contest. Wherever you are at this time is exactly perfect for you; otherwise, you wouldn’t be there. Discover Deepak Chopra’s daily habits to find peace and happiness—no matter what is going on in your life—at our Weekend Within retreat. Learn More. (https://www.chopra.com/live-events/weekend-within/)
I feel it is so important for you to feel good in your own skin. To love and accept yourself as the perfect human being you are at this very moment. If you can do that, social media doesn’t matter. Our society-fed bombardments of wealth, power and beauty don’t matter. We have to unlearn all that to get us to a place of self-love and self-worth. It can be done. It takes time and patience.
For me the Twelve Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous, the Fellowship, and a good sponsor helped me to peel away the onion skin of what makes Dee tick. I understand who I am now and why I did what I did. I understand now my journey through life that lead me to today.
I wish this for you and with that,
For those interested in Art with a Message of Inspiration and Affirmations, please visit my website at www.DeesignsByHarris.com. Mahalo and enjoy!
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Section: Personal Growth (/articles/139/all)
Topics: Psychology (/articles/all/50) Personal Growth (/articles/all/27)
About the Author
Tamara Lechner (/bios/tamara-lechner) Certified Instructor: Meditation
Tamara Lechner is a happiness expert and Chopra-Certified Primordial Sound Meditation (/articles/what-is- primordial-sound-meditation) Instructor. Her mission is to be so happy that those around her cannot help but step into her light. She enjoys writing, speaking, and teaching about how a positive mindset affects business, relationships, health, and life satisfaction. Tamara is often found throwing epic parties or walking barefoot in the sand. Join her on The Happiness Trajectory (http://www.ahamoments4u.com/free-online–the-happiness- trajectory.html), a free online mindset reboot, or find out more about her at… Read more (/bios/tamara-lechner)