Tag Archives: The Power of Regret

Mini Book Review: SOL22 Day 8

I’ve been reading quite a bit lately…so this must be the perfect time for a mini book review!

I recently finished Daniel Pink’s new book, The Power of Regret: How Looking Backward Moves Us Forward. As someone who is a huge proponent of reflection–for students, for teachers, and humans of any kind, Pink’s conclusions didn’t surprise me.

Without giving away anything, here’s a few highlights:

There are benefits of regret–improving decisions, boosting performance, and deepening meaning. If feeling is for thinking, and thinking is for doing, then feeling can help us think…and then take action.

There are 4 general categories of regret: Foundation regrets (decisions that have to do with stability), Boldness regrets (chances you didn’t take in life), Moral regrets (choices that compromise our beliefs or when we behave poorly), and Connection regrets (relationships with people). These categories can blur and overlap, but Pink argues that regrets fall into these 4 general categories.

I loved the opening to chapter 11 where there is a comparison between regret and photography. (The old-fashioned version of photography where film and negatives are in play.) Pink talks about how on a film negative, the light spots appear dark and the dark spots light. He then goes on to say, “The four core regrets operate as a photographic negative of a good life. If we know what people regret the most, we can reverse that image to reveal what they value the most. (p.149)

There are strategies for using regret to move forward positively. One metaphor I enjoyed was the description of self-distancing which, “…changes your role from scuba diver to oceanographer, from swimming in the murky depths of regret to piloting above the water to examine its shape and shoreline.” (p.178)

And Pink connects regret to storytelling. He says, “Open the hood of regret, and you’ll see that the engine powering it is storytelling. Our very ability to experience regret depends on our imagination’s capacity to travel backward in time, rewrite events, and fashion a happier ending than in the original draft. Our capacity to respond to regret, to mobilize it for good, depends on our narrative skills–disclosing the tale, analyzing its components, and crafting and recrafting the next chapter.” (p.208)

While the book is not earth shattering in its revelations, it is interesting and reads in a pretty typical Daniel Pink way. I personally like the connections to the power of reflection–and the way it refutes the idea of a “no regrets” approach to life.

What are you reading? I’d love to hear your recommendations!