Written by Jeff Taylor, MA, LPC
If you could relive one year of your life, which age would you pick? It might be a year in college, or the birth of a child. It could be the starting of an exciting new job, or it might even be a moment in childhood that was filled with wonder. The age you choose probably reflects the year that you felt the best. In a word, it would represent the time you were filled with tremendous hope.
Hope is the expectation of positive things. We need hope in our lives in the same way that our lungs need oxygen. Hope is a significant part of why we get up in the morning. The complete absence of hope creates a despair that keeps us in bed and removes the desire to even try. I have often used the metaphor of climbing a mountain to describe the experience of life. When we are in our teens and twenties, we are looking up at the mountain that we are about to scale.
Many exciting questions involve this view:
Who will I meet?
What tools and skills will I need for all that is ahead?
What will the view be like?
Will I succeed?
Around halfway up the mountain, our perspective changes. The climb to the top is now closer and the view down the mountain is now very much part of the climbing experience. As we look down the mountain, we think about think things we would have done differently. We are experiencing regret. Regret is a healthy part of life at all ages (and throughout the entire climb up the mountain). Some of these things we can easily let go of, while others might impede our desire to continue the climb out of fear that we might make similar mistakes. Remorse is a direct reflection of the things that we value. Regret can be a place of tremendous growth and sometimes paralyzing fear. Guilt is the emotion that reflects regret and tells us to not try because it won’t change anything.
Changing regret into purpose creates hope.
Let’s go back to the year you chose. What aspects of hope reflect that year? Are you living from the priorities that those desires reflect?
Try an experiment:
Write down five words that most reflect the year you would relive. With each word you have chosen, turn it into an action point or goal.
If you chose the word "friends", make a list:
Write down the names of three to five friends that will make a priority to spend time with on a regular basis.
Send a personal handwritten note telling them SPECIFICALLY what you appreciate about the friendship.
Send an email or text to friends that you have not had contact in a long time and re-connect.
Each day do something small for a close friend. If you are about to fall asleep and recognize you forget, send a text simply saying, “I’m glad were friends” or “I appreciate you!”
I’ll bet you sleep better.