Summer is a time that brings freedom to the forefront of many peoples’ minds. We celebrate Independence Day, epic road trips and “getaway vacations” are undertaken, and our own neighborhoods and backyards become the settings for great adventures. Created by Martha J. Ross-Rodgers and celebrated on July 15th this year and every third Saturday in July, “Toss Away the ‘could haves’ and ‘should haves’ Day” offers each of us a new kind of freedom; an opportunity to shrug off the weight of the past and embrace freedom from regret. The MINES team invites you to join us in embracing this liberating holiday this year.
All you need to celebrate “Toss Away the ‘could haves’ and ‘should haves’ Day” is old-fashioned pen and paper, a trash can, and a few moments for reflection. For an environmentally friendly twist use scrap paper or the back of a document you were already going to throw away or recycle. These pesky “could haves” and “should haves” don’t deserve your good paper anyway! To get started take a moment to write down all the “should haves” and “could haves” that come to mind. Go ahead; we’ll wait. Having trouble getting started? Here are a few of our own “should haves” and “could haves.”
- “I would be making more money if I had gone back to school”
- “I could have been more adventurous.”
- “I should have made my friends more of a priority”
- “I wish I would have summited the 14er”
Not convinced it’s worth the work? Believe it or not, there are many “costs” associated with your “Shoulda Woulda Couldas.” They affect your mental and physical health. For a brief second, let’s look at how it can affect your Mental Health. They can cause…
- Panic Attacks/Anxiety
- Behavioral & Personality Changes
- Relationship Problems
- Substance Abuse
Now, let’s look at the effects on your physical health. There are always symptoms associated with Anxiety and Depression. Depending on the depth of your “Shoulda Woulda Couldas” and how much anxiety and or depression it causes you, you could start to feel
- Nervousness, Irritability, Restlessness
- Trouble Sleeping, Fatigue
- Trouble Concentrating
- Shortness of Breath
- Rapid Heartbeat/Breathing
- Chest Pain
You’ve seen what your regrets are costing you, but what is the payout for this mental housekeeping? For starters, the time and energy that were being put it the past can be redirected to the present! You have freed up precious mental resources to mindfully engage in the activates that promote your happiness and wellbeing. Rather than negative thoughts that reduce self-esteem, you can focus on mood-boosting positive thoughts about the now. Not only that, an article by Charles Q. Choi suggests that letting go of regrets could be associated with better mental health later in life. What better time than now to develop a new habit that could lead to a happier more fulfilled life even into your later years?
Feeling motivated to get rid of those regrets you’ve written down? We sure are! Take that piece of paper, crumble it up in a little ball, and for added luck in the future give it a great big goodbye kiss, then toss it away. Put it in the trash can, burn it in a campfire, do whatever feels right to get rid of it, just please don’t litter.
I will now be able to focus on the “Everything happens for a reason approach” and turn “I should have made my friends more of a priority” into “I might not have been able to attend that friend’s dinner party, but I was able to tie up loose ends at home instead”. And “I wish I would’ve summited the 14er” into “I may not have been able to summit the 14er this time, but I got further than I ever have before, and now I can train harder and I will know what to expect the next time!”
Remember, the past is the past. You cannot change 5 minutes ago, let alone 5 years ago. Use this year’s “Toss Away the ‘could haves’ and ‘should haves’ Day”, to be clutter free from the past. To quote Bil Keane “Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, today is a gift, that’s why we call it the present”.
To your wellbeing,
Ann Hendricks and Eugenia Janssen
The MINES Team