Facebook Instagram YouTube Contact | tzu chi searc

Do not dwell in the past, do not dream on the future

Why is life filled with regrets?

pexels pixabay 355952
(Photo credit to PEXELS) 

Many a time, mistakes are made when mindfulness is neglected & one’s composure is lost in that spur of the moment. Then as we start to reflect, the afterthoughts will always be filled with “Look, it’s all my fault. I wish I hadn’t said that, if not I wouldn’t be feeling so upset now’.

One very common sight is when we receive our examination results and realise that the outcome has fallen short of our expectation, we then tend to look back and lament, “Why did I panic and not finish the question that  I wanted to do so?” “Why did I get distracted by that incident and leave out that question? I could have gotten full marks otherwise!” On the other hand, there are those who are ill-prepared as they prioritise play over work and nervousness strikes during the examination. The minds have difficulty in staying calm and mistakes are made one after another as a result.

Why are there so many ‘regrets’ in life? Often, we tend to lose control of ourselves in the moment of pique and without mindfulness, we will react inappropriately, resulting in an awry action and this will eventually manifest into remorse.

Living with remorse can be a vicious cycle. It leads to less achievement. With lesser achievements, we get increasingly dissatisfied with our performance and will continue to fall back on false memories – “Ah, missed it by moments. All I needed was just that one thought. It was those inappropriate words and improper actions.” As such, our heart is always plagued with regrets. If we cannot let go of past mistakes, we will lose touch with the present moment.

Although some people do not dwell in the past, they dream very far into the future. For example, having thoughts of starting work in a managerial position upon graduation and then rise to a CEO position two years later. After assuming the position, fantasize of constructing buildings and then expanding the business overseas…. With such meaningless daydreams of the future, we will not be able to gain awareness of the present moment.

As such, do not reminisce and live in the past. Let bygones be bygones. Also, refrain from thinking of the utopian future. It is more important to actively seize the “present moment”. In Buddhism, we speak of “karma”. If the cause is due to lack of self-control, then the outcome we experience will be detrimental. Such is the phenomena of cause, effect, and emotions.

Hence, I enjoy sharing the teaching of “Impermanence “– Do not dwell in the past, do not dream on the future; Thoughts of the past are distractions while thoughts of the future are delusions. What is important is to take hold of the present moment. If we can grasp every second and moment to lead a steadfast life, then we can be worry-free.

Bid farewell to ‘regrets’ with these techniques: Do not dwell in the past, do not dream on the future and make good use of time to live life earnestly.


Translated by Kerri Loh