Living Without Regrets: The Theory of Life's Free Parking Space

Who I am
Robert Maurer

Author and references
“Don't park within a kilometer of your destination just because you think you won't find a nearby free spot. Go exactly where you want to be. If there is no space you will always have the possibility to move away. In other words: don't give up too early in life. ”“ Do what you're passionate about, what really interests you. Don't put Plan B, the contingency plan, into practice until you've tried everything to make Plan A come true. ”These were the words of Catherine Drew Gilpin Faust in one of Harvard University's graduation speeches. . Professor Faust knew what she was talking about, as she was the first woman to assume the post of university president. In this speech he illustrated his: “Theory of the free parking space of life”.When it comes to important decisions in life, those that mark our destiny, it is important to reflect and choose a path we will not regret, it is essential to set ourselves the most ambitious goal and fight to achieve it. In this way there will be no room for phrases like: "if that time I had done ..." or "what would have happened if ..."

You are your goals and your path

Fighting for your dreams and having the courage to achieve them is the key to living without regrets. But it also hides a deadly danger - for example, imagine that you have a very ambitious dream and work tirelessly to make it happen. Give your body and soul, day after day, to achieve the desired success. However, it is likely that when you reach the coveted goal you feel a void inside, you do not feel the satisfaction you were hoping for and, therefore, you will begin to wonder if you did well, if it was worth so much sacrifice. At that precise moment you may wonder if it would not have been better to spend those years enjoying other pleasures in life rather than dedicating yourself 100% to making your dream come true. Indeed, a very interesting study conducted at University College London has shown without shadow of a doubt something you probably already know: that we are unable to predict our emotional reactions to future situations. In this experiment, the psychologists recruited 47 people and gave them 10 pounds which they had to share as they wanted with a stranger who was in another room. But they also said that if the stranger refused the offer, they would be left empty-handed. Then they were asked how they would feel if it went like this Obviously, everything was prepared for the stranger to turn down the offer and people lose their money, because the goal was to assess how accurately the participants could predict. their emotions in the face of rejection. Surprisingly, most of the participants felt less disappointed than they imagined. Next, the researchers recruited 27 students and asked them to predict how they would feel if they received a low or high grade in one of the end of year exams. The researchers returned after the exam and asked again how they felt. Again it was found that the teens had overestimated their emotions, both negative and positive.These experiments show we tend to exaggerate the emotional impact of the situation, thinking that we will feel better or worse. For this reason, after having cultivated a dream for a long time, when it finally comes true, we don't feel as happy as we thought. And being aware of this can be devastating, especially if we have invested a lot of time and all our illusions in the project, so even if it is true that we must aim high, that we must fight for our dreams and never give up, the fact remains. that we must learn above all to enjoy the journey. It is important to find a balance, because otherwise we run the risk of arriving empty at the goal.This means that as we work to make our dreams come true, we must also learn to appreciate what we have, here and now. It is not a contradiction, but it means avoiding living in frustration, perpetually waiting for dreams to come true.It also means that we must save energy and effort. It is not a question of always finding the best parking space, at any price.

What lesson does the theory of free parking for life teach us?

- Don't be afraid of failing or making mistakes, because you can always return to your comfort zone. Remember that there is no worse repentance than that which comes from letting dreams slip because you didn't have the courage to grab them at the right moment.
- When it comes to big dreams, don't immediately aim for "Plan B", have the courage to take risks, because only in this way will you know what you are capable of. When you force yourself to take it a step further, you expand your potential and give your best.
- If you fail, don't be ashamed, to err is human and mistakes are part of learning. Just accept the experience, don't be discouraged, and get to work again to find a more realistic and accessible project.
- As you work to make your dreams come true, remember to enjoy your present, because that's all you really have. Don't let the promise of the future take away the happiness you can enjoy right now. Look to the future with hope, not frustration.
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