Yesterday evening when I sat down with a glass of wine to see if the world of telly had anything exciting on offer I was in for a big surprise: I now have on-demand TV. Odd really as I was at the launch on Tuesday (see my post wrong place right time) but somehow I had completely forgotten about it.
Anyway when I pressed a button on the remote my flat-screen told me I had a choice, I could watch normal “live” TV or the pick of the day or I could choose from a selection of series and films. At first I couldn’t believe my luck, I felt like a kid in a digital candy store, but soon I was somewhat overwhelmed, there where so many buttons to press and decisions to make and in some cases even euros to pay. On the one hand it was nice to be able to pick and choose, on the other it was hard to know what I wanted.
I suppose it’s a little like life, we want as many choices as possible but then can’t make up our minds. It doesn’t matter if it’s what career we what to pursue, what dream to follow, who we want to date, what dress, shoes or pants to buy or even as simple as what kind of sauce we want to have with our pasta. I suppose the problem with making a choice, saying ‘yes’ to one thing, is that it always means we have to say ‘no’ to something else. If it’s just the pasta sauce that may not be such a big problem as we can just go back and pick another flavour the next time, with a career or dream or partner it may not be as simple.
And sometimes when we say ‘no’ to one thing we feel regret if the choice we made doesn’t turn out the way we hoped. Regret is one of those feelings that in psychology is termed a ‘moral emotion’, like guilt it is a feeling we get that we turn towards ourselves and not at others. But unlike guilt regret is something that is very hard to make up. When you feel guilty you can often ask for forgiveness and move on, but going back in time to change a choice is something we just can’t do. The upside to having moral emotions is the fact that it means you’re are not a psychopath as they are incapable of any moral feelings, so yeah to that.
But like guilt regret only makes us feel bad about ourselves and keeping those feelings alive doesn’t help us as they are not productive in any way. The best we can do is learn from our decision and move on, leave it behind us and understand that regret is only born out of knowledge we often didn’t have at the time when making the choice. If we had known our job would make us unhappy, our relationship would fail or the pasta sauce tasted awful we wouldn’t have made the choice in the first place.
So when I finally decided on what I wanted to see, I was thrilled with the fact that a video rental store had moved into my living-room and I was happy to pay a few euros to see I film I had missed in the cinema. And even though I know that I will make choices I may regret in the future I completely agree with American author Grenville Kleiser:
A ton of regret never makes an ounce of difference.