15 ways to sidestep regret

Regrets? We’ve had more than a few. And by the time you’re middle-aged, you might too. Here are 15 we hope you avoid.

1. Spending too much time on your phone

Whether it’s Candy Crush or pictures of your university mate’s trip home to Rockhampton, it’s all time you’ll never get back.

2. Not inviting friends over for dinner

Don’t just think about how good it would be to see your friends – make a date and keep it. Cook for them, if you’re game. They’ll love you for it.

3. Not laughing more

You don’t need to go to a comedy festival to have a proper belly laugh. But finding the lighter side of life will make you happier and healthier. Science says so.

4. Not taking the road less travelled

No, this isn’t metaphorical, it’s literal: wander a little off the track you always take and you’ll really discover the world you live in.

5. Not helping people

Want to feel happier? Help someone. Sometimes the last thing you feel like is giving your time to someone who’s sick or depressed. But have you ever regretted an act of generosity?

6. Not meditating

It’s a hassle to add to your routine, sure. There’s always something else you could be doing. But here’s the thing: the benefits of meditation pay off in ways you cannot imagine. Set aside five minutes a day and watch yourself become incrementally calmer. All together now: ohhhmmm.

7. Watching TV instead of gardening

Instead of vegetating on the couch, grow some vegetables. Or flowers. getting dirt under your fingernails not only puts you in touch with nature (Google ‘biophilia’ for all its positive effects) but you’ll also get to see the fruits of your labour growing year after year.

8. Not learning another language

Being bilingual has real benefits. Research shows that speaking another language makes us more attentive and decisive, enables better multi-tasking, staves off dementia and boosts, um … memory.

9. Not spending time with your parents

Because before you know it, they’ll be gone.

10. Saying yes when you wanted to say no

We waste so much time doing things we don’t really want to do. Learn to say no, gracefully.

11. Fixating on the small stuff

Really, only the big stuff matters.

12. Giving up a musical instrument

We abandoned our childhood clarinets and pianos to make way for work and social lives. But you might have become a musical maestro if you never gave up. Like singing or learning another language, playing an instrument lifts our mood and staves off cognitive decline.

13. Spending that overseas trip behind a camera

Pay attention to your surroundings and experience the moment. You may never visit these places again. On that note, keep your iPhone in your pocket when you’re at a concert. Why put a gadget between you and your favourite musician or band? Just be there.

14. Losing touch with old friends

The people you knew in your younger years can be a powerful force in reminding you of who you are.

15. Not saying sorry

That one little word may make all the difference to someone. Is it really that hard? It’s gracious to admit when you’re wrong, and when you look back, you’re unlikely to regret it.

This article first appeared on the website of Mercer, our superannuation partner.