Review: The Power of Regret: How Looking Backward Moves Us Forward

The Power of Regret: How Looking Backward Moves Us Forward
The Power of Regret: How Looking Backward Moves Us Forward by Daniel H. Pink
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

“Foundation regrets are trickier than the other three deep structure regrets I’ll describe in upcoming chapters. Remember that what distinguishes regret from disappointment is personal responsibility. Disappointments exist outside of your control. The child who wakes up to discover that the Tooth Fairy hasn’t left her a reward is disappointed. Regrets, in contrast, are your fault.”

Even though I am usually a fan of Daniel Pink, I disliked this book almost immediately. As it turns out, regret is not a topic I like to read about. It’s not even because I have a lot of regrets. Maybe it’s because I don’t have many? I tend to think, think, overthink, before I leap into a situation and then once I’ve leapt, I stop thinking about it and commit fully to the course I’ve chosen. I wasn’t ready to find out if that wasn’t the right course of action.

“People who asserted their identities rarely regretted it, even when those identities ran counter to the dominant culture. People who suppressed their identities talked about denying themselves the potential to live fully.”

The book didn’t really address that, to be honest, or maybe it did and said to do mostly what I do but in a slightly different way which was, in fact, helpful. It also had some great gems like the one above, a solid reminded to be who you are and that you rarely regret not hiding who you are.

“But they may also be the most collectively uplifting. There is something heartening about grown women and men waking up at night despairing over incidents decades earlier in their lives in which they hurt others, acted unfairly, or compromised the values of their community. It suggests that stamped somewhere in our DNA and buried deep in our souls is the desire to be good.”

Or these stories that many people regret unkind actions they’ve taken towards others. I remember in my 20s, I was talking to someone who was quite unkind to me as a kid and she said “oh we were just kids.” I’m glad to find out many people aren’t like that and can understand the consequences of their actions.

“In the Powerball case and many others, minimizing regret is not the same as minimizing risk. And if we don’t anticipate properly, we end up making the regret-minimizing choice rather than the risk-minimizing choice.”

I also loved this. Because I think I do this quite often. Maybe this is why I usually don’t have many regrets so the next section was quite helpful to me.

“To Use Anticipated Regrets in Your Decision Making: 1. Satisfice on most decisions. If you are not dealing with one of the four core regrets, make a choice, don’t second-guess yourself, and move on. 2. Maximize on the most crucial decisions. If you are dealing with one of the four core regrets, project yourself to a specific point in the future and ask yourself which choice will most help you build a solid foundation, take a sensible risk, do the right thing, or connect with others.”

This was likely the most profound part of the book for me. Asking myself how much will this decision matter in the course of my life (in 5 years even) and then choosing the action accordingly was an obvious and yet profound learning for me. I also loved the idea of projecting into a future and checking with myself on which choice will help.

In the end, I was very happy I read this book and I recommend it.

with gratitude to edelweiss and Riverhead Books for an advanced copy in exchange for an honest review.

View all my reviews

Leave a Reply

You can use these HTML tags

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>




This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.