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Living With Regret?
January 15, 2008

Midlife Wisdom For Men Issue #098, January 15, 2008

=========== TABLE OF CONTENTS ==========

· Note From A Reader

· Book Review: Iron Man Family Outing

· Living With Regret?


Written by Noel McNaughton
(c) copyright 2008


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Welcome to this issue of Midlife Wisdom for Men.

We are far enough into 2008 that I am almost always remembering to write the proper year on cheques! I hope the year is going well for you so far.

A reader suggested that although he realized I need to make some money somehow in order to keep the website going, perhaps I don't have to have so many product promotions in my newsletter. Consequently, I have taken most out.

In future, I will feature only a product or two that I use, and that I think you will find useful, in each newsletter.

Regret is a strange and complicated emotion. It can cause great pain, but also lead us to live our lives more in line with our values. I did some things that I regretted when I was young, and these days I concentrate on living my life so that when I look back later, I won't regret either things I did, or more importantly, things I DIDN'T do.

There are about 1500 words in this issue, which should take you about five minutes to read.



Note From A Reader


I am guilty of not answering your questionnaire, but do read most of the mail you send!

I would like to share something which has helped me and I am sure it would help Todd (from last newsletter)!

Most of the, time when there is conflict or a problem, the problem can be found by looking into a mirror. This I have known for a long time. What I have now learnt, is ones ATTITUDE is something which all of us can control. I am reminded of this ability, by carrying a stone in my pocket. It reminds me, to "be the person I would like to meet that day".

Having the right ATTITUDE normally creates that person. Life is great!!

Have fun



I was married by a judge. I should have asked for a jury. -- Groucho Marx


Book Review: Iron Man Family Outing

Rick Belden, author of Iron Man Family Outing, is like many men I have met in that he struggled with his relationship to his father. His dad, like many dads, was uncommunicative, and seldom if ever gave praise, but was quick to criticize.

What can happen when we have a dad like that is we armour ourselves emotionally, so we can't be hurt. We often then struggle in our relationships with women.

Rick Belden did that as well, but he also wrote poems about his struggles. Powerful poems.

I recommend his book to pretty well any man, but especially to men whose fathers were 'silent and un-praising'.

Here is what a couple of people say about Iron Man Family Outing:

"Along the way to a more conscious manhood, Belden leads us through wrenching encounters with fathers and sons, into the hungry wounds that can drive a man into impersonal se'x and a half-life of work, and finally to acceptance, release, and relationship." Betty S. Flowers, Editor Joseph Campbell and the Power of Myth.

On every page, a word, a phrase, a sentence shoots an arrow into your gut and jerks you down into your own anger and grief. This collection of harrowing and healing poetry is the best volume of men's poetry I have read. Lyman Grant, Managing Editor of MAN!, the quarterly journal of the Austin Men's Center.

If you want a copy, you can buy it from Amazon, but it is better to get it from Rick himself (he will send it pronto, and he gets to keep a bit more of the money). He can autograph it for you too if you wish. Email him here: Rick Belden


Football player: "Nobody in football should be called a genius. A genius is a guy like Norman Einstein."


Living With Regret?

There was an article about regret in the latest AARP magazine, and I thought it would be good to write about regret here as well. I think mulling over our past, and sometimes harbouring regrets, is a stage we go through at midlife.

It can be hard letting regrets go.

Too Many Choices Can Bring Regrets

One thing I like about buying stuff at Costco is that there is just one choice of any particular kind of product. I don't need to do comparison shopping, or worry about whether I got the 'best value' on the shelf. Or face the possibility of regret if I didn't.

Hamilton Beazley, Ph.D., is author of No Regrets: A Ten-Step Program for Living in the Present and Leaving the Past Behind. He says "In a sense, it can be said we are living in an Age of Regret. This may be partly because so many baby boomers are reaching the "age of introspection", which can bring regrets.

"This generation has greater idealized expectations - the one that can't be met - than previous generations", Beazley says. The past fifty years have seen such an incredible rise in prosperity and technological advance in the industrialized world that we have come to believe anything is possible for us. As we age, we realize there are things we thought we were going to do, that now we don't have time, or perhaps energy, or even interest for any more. Regret can follow.

What Is The Use Of Regret?

Neal Roese, Ph.D, author of If Only: How to Turn Regret Into Opportunity, says "Regret in particular is useful for signaling to people that it's time to change their strategy. If you're ruminating daily on how things could have been better, that's not good. But a sharp, rapid emotional response followed by a behavioral change, followed by the disappearance of the emotion - that's perfectly good for us."

In other words, the pain of regret tells us where we went wrong and how to do better the next time.

The Five Most Common Life Regrets

According to the article in AARP magazine, these are five most common regrets:

  1. EDUCATION. American consistently cite education as the source of their greatest regret. This is probably because, as Neal Roses says, "education is a gateway to so many other things in life".
  2. CAREER. People who express job regret either bemoan a lack of success in their chosen field or wish they'd picked another career entirely.
  3. ROMANCE. Long-lost loves, unrequited affections, ill-advised affairs, and marriages gone sour are popular sources of later regrets.
  4. FAMILY. Most people have doubts about their own parenting, including not spending enough time with their children or making poor child-care choices. Other common regrets involve estrangements from one's parents or siblings.
  5. THE SELF. Many people are disappointed in their own abilities, attitudes, and behaviors. "if only I had more self-control" is a frequent complaint of this group.

So What's A Person To Do?

Again from the AARP article, here are some strategies for dealing with regret:

  • WRITE IT, FORGET IT. The mere act of writing down one's woes helps to ease them.
  • CONSIDER IT FINAL. The sooner you accept the finality of a decision, the more satisfied you will be with the results, good or bad.
  • LOOK ON THE DARK SIDE. Rather than dwell on how your life would have been better if you'd done this of that, think of the ways in which it might very well have gotten worse.
  • DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT. It's generally the regrets over the things you don't do that will linger. If you always wished you had a college degree, go back to school. Even if your late-life pursuit of modern dance is a disaster, you might learn some valuable lessons.

Regrets Change As We Age

One of the gifts of getting older is the realization that everything eventually passes. Regrets included, at least most of the time.

Regrets we can do nothing about are easier to let go of than ones we can do something about. If you have regrest you can't do anything about, use the methods above to let them go.

When we are young, we usually regret things we did, that we wish we hadn't. As we get older, we regret the things we didn't do. Here is a way to figure out if you have regrets you CAN do something about:

1. If you knew you were going to die in five years, how would you live until then?

2. If you knew you were going to die in six months, how would you live until then?

3. If you found out you were going to die in 24 hours, what would you regret not having done?

If there are things you want to do, break them into small, doable steps, and get started.

May the road rise up before you, the wind always be at your back, and may you live your life in a way that brings few regrets!


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"Middle age is when your classmates are so grey and wrinkled and bald they don't recognize you." Bennet Cerf

The Mankind Project The ManKind Project® offers trainings which support men in developing lives of integrity, accountability, and connection to feeling. Our trainings challenge men to develop their abilities as leaders, fathers, and elders as ways of offering their deepest gifts in service to the world.

The ManKind Project's New Warrior Training Adventure® is an intense, transformative men's initiation which invites men to forge a deep conscious connection between head and heart. The NWTA offers men a powerful, challenging opportunity to look at all aspects of their lives in a richly supportive environment.

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I Need Your Questions and Feedback!

Got comments? Questions? I'd love to hear from you.

Just email your suggestions and/or questions to . I look forward to hearing from you. And thanks.


Well friend, that's it for now. Again, if you enjoyed this and/or found it useful, and know of anyone else who might like it, please pass it forward. And if you have questions or recommendations, I would love to hear from you.

All the best, Noel

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