How many of us waste our precious time living in the "if onlys"? It doesn't matter what the circumstance, we can always find an if only. For instance, when a family member dies we might think: if only I had visited more often, written the letter, or said what I wanted to say before they died. Or when the stock market goes up or down, we reflect, if only I had bought or sold as I had thought I should. There are many other if onlys: if only I had asked her out, taken the job, moved to Alaska, bought the house, or said "I love you."

Regrets and if onlys are very personal. We all have moments that keep resurfacing. I could sit around and remember every patient of mine who had a problem that I couldn't diagnose until they were quite ill and say, "If only I were a better surgeon." Yet what good would it do to relive these regrets?

If your regrets and recriminations just cause you continual grief, then they are of no value and will destroy you. However, you can become a better person by assessing your if onlys. If you realize you did the best you could at the moment and forgive yourself, then they can pay countless dividends in the future.

Solution of the Day: Discard past regrets, cleanse your conscience, and create a new and better person.

Bernie S. Siegel in 365 Prescriptions for the Soul