You’ll Regret It All

soren-kierkegaard

I recently came across the following quote by philosopher Soren Kierkegaard, and it really struck me as deeply true, at least for me. No matter what I choose to do or choose not to do in life, there is always a part of me that wonders if I made the right choice and won’t shut up with the “what ifs”:

“Marry, and you will regret it; don’t marry, you will also regret it; marry or don’t marry, you will regret it either way. Laugh at the world’s foolishness, you will regret it; weep over it, you will regret that too; laugh at the world’s foolishness or weep over it, you will regret both. Believe a woman, you will regret it; believe her not, you will also regret it… Hang yourself, you will regret it; do not hang yourself, and you will regret that too; hang yourself or don’t hang yourself, you’ll regret it either way; whether you hang yourself or do not hang yourself, you will regret both. This, gentlemen, is the essence of all philosophy.”

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11 thoughts on “You’ll Regret It All

  1. Kierkegaard is awesome. The thinker I’m writing my dissertation on, Romano Guardini, was profoundly influenced by him and shared the same deep melancholy expressed in this quote. I especially recommend Kierkegaard’s book “The Sickness unto Death,” in which he shows how this feeling of being unfulfilled or unresolved doesn’t have to lead to despair, but can point us towards a positive self-acceptance, when we come to see ourselves in relation to the infinite and to absolute love.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. There is truth in this but only half of it. We need to remember those choices we didn’t make could have led to WORSE outcomes than we now have. We can equally say ‘I regret not doing X’ as ‘Thank goodness I didn’t do X’.

    Regret is as kind of clinging, a clinging to a past that no exists. As Buddhists would say, this is kind of pointless. Dwell in the present. I find practising mindfulness helpful. Regret is one of my ‘middle of the night’ voices. I am gradually learning to accept and dismiss it.

    Liked by 2 people

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