Regret: Our Most Misunderstood Emotion and a Gift to Move Us Forward with Daniel H. Pink - Jen Hatmaker

Regret: Our Most Misunderstood Emotion and a Gift to Move Us Forward with Daniel H. Pink

Episode 02

We’re knee deep in our What If Series and we’re bringing a twist to the conversation. This powerful interview is a note-taking worthy one; a revealing conversation on one of the most misunderstood emotions we have as humans: regrets. How can we harness our regrets toward momentum instead of drowning in them?

Our guest is writer and researcher Daniel H. Pink, a fascinating thinker and author of several books–five of them New York Times bestselling works. His latest book is The Power of Regret: How Looking Backward Moves Us Forward. 

 In this episode Daniel and Jen discuss:

  • Basic neurology behind regret
  • How age can affect regret
  • The four main types of regret we all feel
  • How to vaporize the negative effects of regret through practical to dos

Daniel teaches us to confront our regrets, listen to our regrets, use them as data, as feedback, and draw lessons from them. He shows us the evidence from social psychology, that if we deal with our regrets properly, we can become better problem solvers, strategists and ultimately find more meaning in life. 

Episode Transcript

Hey everybody. Jen Hatmaker here, your host of the For the Love Podcast. You guys, welcome to the show. Oh, my God, I got a hot one for you today. We are in a series right now called For the Love of What If. So what we’re doing is asking ourselves, we’re asking those what if questions like, let’s dream about something differently that maybe at one time or another has… Maybe it’s dogged our thoughts or held us back. But what if we didn’t have to let fear or shame dictate what we pursue in life, what we do next, what we do with what something we’ve already chosen? Or, what if we did pursue a thing, it didn’t work, it either failed or we failed it in some way, possibly, and we decided, hey, instead of just letting that be an end of the road roadblock, what if I learned from it?

So what if we have regrets about what we either did or didn’t pursue and how it turned out, and we decided to make peace with those decisions and learn from them instead of buckle down in shame? If it was possible to do these things, how would we look at our lives differently? And frankly, how would we live our lives differently? I think it would really change us. And I think the idea of it makes me emotional because thinking about just shuttling our regrets around is so debilitating. And the opposite of what if we could engage in regret in a new way and in a way that is going to inform the what ifs in our life? I’m going to give a quick little teaser here because my guest today literally said inside this interview and we’re about to talk about regret, he’s like, the big four primary regrets, so really we all have it and it is ubiquitous. And you’ll hear about this revolve around this idea that we have. If only. If only I would’ve done this, if only I would’ve done that. If only I wouldn’t have done this.

And in a series called What If, having a conversation around if only is really important to how we move forward. So honestly, the way that we carry our regrets affects the way that we move through the world because, depending on how we look at them, which is what we’re going to examine today, regrets can either weigh so heavy on us. They can take us right out of the game and really never have any sort of resolution. Or, according to my guest today, they don’t have to because if we take the time to reframe this, to examine our regrets without judgment, they can and should become our teachers. They will show us what we value and the kind of life we’re trying to reach for.

And weirdly, regret is a gift. I know that might feel like a stretch right now. You’re like, “Damn, we’re in a series called What If, and we’re talking about regrets.” But these tie together, these absolutely tie together because regrets can be a propeller forward. In fact, my guest’s book today is called The Power of Regret, How Looking Backward Moves Us Forward. So literally, this conversation belongs smack in the middle of this series.

You guys, I am beyond thrilled to have writer and researcher Daniel H. Pink on the show today. Now, if you know Dan, you’re just as thrilled as I am because he’s one of the most fascinating thinkers today. And generous. Dan is the author of seven books, mostly on human behavior, five of them New York Times bestsellers, and he is just an absolutely interesting researcher and thinker. He reminds me of some of Brene’s work in that she looks at the research and the data and then applies it to human emotion and then ultimately behavior and carves out a path forward for us in such a way that is productive, healthy, healing. And so where Brene centers her work around vulnerability as a path forward, Daniel’s work is centered around essentially the power of regret. And that is the name of his book, the Power of Regret, How Looking Backward moves us Forward.

I realize this feels like a lot just to take on in a regular old day in January, but this is a fascinating conversation and I think it will give you permission and I think it will give you relief, and I think it will give you comfort. Daniel is a fascinating guide and what might feel kind of heavy for you as a listener at the beginning of this conversation, because regret is heavy and we have assigned a weight to it that we don’t have to hang on to. There is a different way to perceive regret. So I hope you’ll stick beyond the initial discomfort into the meat of this conversation, because I am just buzzing from it. So without further ado, here’s my conversation with the brilliant writer and researcher Daniel H. Pink.


Mentioned in this Episode: 



The Power of Regret: How Looking Backward Moves Us Forward
by Daniel H. Pink

Kristin Neff’s Self Compassion Research

Brene Brown’s Viral Ted Talk on Shame

World Regret Survey


Stay Connected with Jen Hatmaker: 


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XO – Team Jen

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