HAPPINESS | 21 January 2016

Fear & regrets

You may remember we influence 50% of our happiness by the actions we take. I don’t know about you, but I still find this a strange idea (it’s so much control!). Apparently I can adjust my actions and feel even more happy. So it got me thinking: what should I do differently to achieve this? Since this year – for  me – is all about taking risks, I’m slowly saying yes to things I normally say no to. Just to find out if no was the right decision or not.

And a strange thing happened: every time I said yes to something I normally say no to I regretted it the instant I said yes. I hoped to feel liberated and powerful, but I felt afraid and exhausted. A few months ago I flew to Milan to give a lecture about behavioral change for government officials. As a true introvert this was pretty much my biggest nightmare. But somehow I was convinced I should take more risks in life, overcome my fear, blabla… So when they asked me what it was: yes or no, I said yes. The minute I said it, I regretted it. Why the hell did I say yes??? Why?!

I remember sitting in a bus, together with all the officials. I was sitting in the back and saw a group of business men and women having polite conversations. Everybody was relaxed, while my hearth was pounding in my chest. And I still had a few hours before I had to give the lecture. But somehow, miraculously, I survived it. And giving the circumstances I did pretty good. Yep, I felt f*cking proud (can I swear on a blog? Is it rude? Sorry, but I did feel f*ucking proud)! But I felt incredibly exhausted as well. Conversations with the people around me were labored, my legs were killing me (do you remember those growing pains back in the day? When I’m stressed I always get the same feeling in my legs. Weird body.), and I had no clue how I was going to survive dinner that evening. Although I was proud, I did regret saying yes. I should’ve said no was all I could think that evening and following day.

But when I think back, yes was definitely the best answer! It’s something I’ll always remember and the one feeling I remember the most is how proud I felt. I came a long way: from not sleeping the night before a 10 minute presentation for my classmates, to surviving an English lecture for government officials in another country. And my story is not unique. Research shows that we regret actions more than inactions on a short term basis, but over the long haul we regret our inactions the most. So if you’re doubting what to do: take a risk and just do it!

P.S. Love these photos by Michael Najjar! And what else is more scary than outer space. It represents thinking big and taking risks perfectly!