Tag Archives: growth mindset

Vignette 3: Regret

There is a really good song out right now that seems to be hitting all sorts of emotional chords with people. The song is called “Let Her Go” by Passenger.

It has been out for a while. I first caught wind of it as a background song for a YouTube video of a girl’s tweets compiled from the moment she arrived in Ottawa to her being diagnosed with cancer, and her final tweet before she passed away. Very powerful stuff.

She expressed the desire to actually live her last three months, travel to South America, reconnect with her mother, and not spend it in a cubical.

The song is very appropriate to the video, and for the this post’s topic of Regret.

The song hauntingly echoes the sentiments of a person who breaks up with their girlfriend. The chorus uses the low burning of a candle, the sun’s heat versus the winter’s chill, distance from home and happiness in contrast to sadness as analogous to being with this person versus losing them.

We often are not grateful for the things and people around us until we lost them.

Regret in all of its various forms can be a weight that some of us carry for a very many number of years; indeed, many spend a lifetime swallowed in its hollow caverns.

How do we tackle regret? I believe there are two way: Growth Mind and Carpe Diem.

First, I have talked a very many number of times about the attitude a growth mindset fosters. Put simply: the Growth Mindset allows us to learn from our past experiences, be they mistakes, failures, or even missed opportunities.

Rather than wallowing in regret, we should channel our focus on these experiences into bettering ourselves the next time we encounter them.

The second method, Carpe Diem, is much more pertinent to the Twitter Compilation video. Carpe Diem, a Latin phrase, means “seize the day”; don’t let any opportunities slip past you. Almost always be prepared to say “yes” when new opportunities present themselves to you.

For the girl in the twitter video, unfortunately it was when she was presented with the reality of a significantly shortened lifespan; she immediately reassessed her priorities and, Carpe Diem, went to South America and Cuba. The rest of us should keep in mind our fortune of health and take full advantage of it. I don’t mean run off to Spain on a whim, but certainly don’t let great opportunities pass you by due to fear or laziness.

Regret is a lot worse than failure. Be a doer more often than not. It will change your life. Think about Jia Jiang and his 100 Days of Rejection, where spent 100 days requesting ridiculous favours from strangers and how he was sometimes pleasantly surprised, such as his wonderful Donut story.


13. Having a Personal Narrative

Canadian author Thomas King once said “The truth about stories is, that’s all we are.” In other words, we are all made up of the stories of our past and the stories we tell other people.

This is very true when you think about how often the stories we tell other people reinforce our own emotions, motives and paths in life.

In Romeo and Juliet, by Shakespeare, the play opens with our lovelorn protagonist pining over  the beautiful Rosalind, who has rejected Romeo; he spends the day moping about convincing himself that he will never know so beautiful or perfect a woman.

Or consider the heroic Harry Potter who, upon learning of his past, his magical abilities, and his destiny, embodies the role of magical super-sleuth.

These stories we tell ourselves become internalized, and, just as Romeo and Harry are convinced of their fate, so, too, can we lock ourselves in by accepting a narrative about us, good or bad.

How do we go about (re)writing our own story about ourselves? Well, there are three things that need to happen: we have to live it, we have to say it to ourselves, and internalize our narrative. We have to build a story about ourselves, one that is cohesive, and can guide us in our goal setting.

How do you flip the switch from negative to positive?

I remember a few years back there was a celebrity (I think it was John Meyer) who had a video leaked of his own private Positive Affirmations. He sounded a bit like a narcissist saying things like (and I paraphrase) “you are beautiful! You are perfect!” And while I do think that he was going about it the wrong way, I feel like he was onto something. Keeping a personal journal (one that preferably does not get leaked) where you write our your goals, efforts, improvements, and accomplishments is a great way to see how much you have improved!

This in turn helps you to begin writing out, living, and eventually internalizing your narrative, that is, your personal story about yourself.

Begin with small improvements: “Working out at least 4x a week; make bolder claims: “Impress the boss this month”; write out your ‘destiny’: “Retire with enough to travel every year.”

Please note that this is not junk self-help like “The Secret” or some similar pseudo-scientific “Power of Positive Thinking”/wish fulfillment. This is actually having goals in mind and taking the steps necessary to making them manifest.

Even Romeo resolved to go to a party where he would meet the girl of his dreams (forget how they both died… you cynics); and the Great Harry Potter was just another student of magic before fulfilling his destiny.

We all have trials and tribulations; it’s how we view them, and if we keep track of the improvements we are making that will ultimately determine our perspective.

Here are some other perspectives on Personal Narrative:

Elan Morgan: Personal Narrative and Self-Doubt

Robert Tercek: Reclaiming Personal Narrative (picks up at 8mins)

Susan Conley – Power of Story

11. Gaining a new life skill

Childhood vs. Adolescence

In my line of work the greatest challenge is to get young people interested in taking on challenges. There is always resistance.

I remember reading an article (citation will be found once searched) that said that when we were all little kids, 12 and younger, we loved taking on challenges and did not particularly care for what those around us thought of us. Playing video games as a kid was a chance to explore ways to manipulate the laws of the game universe to win. But something weird happens when we become teenagers.

Our brains requires social acceptance. In middle school and high school, teen culture teaches us what those around us think matters. We started to question our judgement and look to those around us for approval.

Personal story segment

I vividly recall a group of so-called popular girls in grade eight who criticized my friend’s economic outfit in comparison to my Adidas gear. But my friend felt devastated and even though I stood up for her, I could not help but feel a little elated in the recognition of my “threads”. It is not something I look back on fondly; my current self wants to slap my past self. But that is the way socialization works.

Stopping the cycle

We need to realize that what others around us think does not matter. When it comes to gaining life skills, others’ mockery should never play any part because their limitations and their willingness to act as sheep will contain their life experiences in a very narrow field of play. For those who wish to expand their life experiences, we need to first recognize that we only have one life to live and we have to make the most of it in the here and now.

Steps to take

This means that we must first want to commit to a personal goal.

Next, we must start the learning process, and simultaneously realize that it will not be an easy road. If we’re still in are early to mid twenties, our brain has not completely finished developing its prefrontal cortex. As such, we can still learn many complex things, including languages, math skills, and playing an instrument. However, even if we’re past the point of maximum cerebral elasticity, the brain can still learn, though, not nearly as quickly as it would have earlier. But we must recognize this in order to progress to the next step.

Practice regularly and have specific targets in mind. Learning the piano? Pick an easy piece (like Chopsticks… or Ruff Ryders’ Anthem) and practice it ad nauseum to the point of near mastery.

As you get better, pick much more complex works and try them out. You may feel like you have plateaued, but don’t let it discourage you. You might not be the best musician, or linguist, or mathematician, but you will at least have done well for yourself.

Keep it up, Ace! You’re on your way!

A more detailed article can be found here at lifehacker.com.

Don’t remember what it was like being a kid and having first time experiences? Put yourselves in her shoes: