It is often said that at the end of our lives, we are more likely to regret the things we did not do than the things we did.
When contemplating whether to do something or not, a plucky voice in our heads may say, “You never know until you try.” This is time-honored wisdom that encourages us to be game rather than to hold back. It reminds us that it is only through experience that we learn about this world and ourselves. Even if we regret the outcome, we have learned something, and the newfound knowledge is almost always worth it.
This wisdom can be applied to situations both large and small. From crossing the Atlantic on a boat to trying Ethiopian food, there’s only one way to find out what it’s like. We have all had experiences where we tried something we didn’t think we’d like and fell in love. We may have found ourselves stuck with nothing to read but a “boring” book, only to kick-start a lifelong passion for Victorian literature. We may have decided that sailing was not for us until we fell in love with someone with a boat. On the other hand, we may try tofu only to learn that it is truly not for us. In this case, we gain greater self-knowledge from experience. And yet, we might remain open to trying it prepared differently. The right marinade might make you a convert — you’ll never know if you don’t try it.
It is often said that at the end of our lives, we are more likely to regret the things we did not do than the things we did. As an exercise to test your own willingness to discover through doing, try making a list of things you regret not having done. You may begin to notice patterns such as a failure to say what you really think of key moments or closed-mindedness to certain types of activities. Just being aware of the opportunities you missed might encourage you not to miss them again. There’s only one way to find out.