I would rather regret the things I have done than the things I haven’t. –Lucille Ball

I’m taking the Internet’s word that Lucille Ball said this, although surely someone must have said it before her. I did find a similar (typically verbose) quote from Henry James: “I don’t regret a single ‘excess’ of my responsive youth—I only regret, in my chilled age, certain occasions and possibilities I didn’t embrace.”

When I last wrote about regret, the shorter sentiment was mentioned by several readers as a favorite quote to live by. I see the appeal. It’s so…active. So devil may care. So make it happen and caution to the wind.

But it’s also a little bit scary  in the way it practically encourages rash decisions, provides justification for almost anything you might want to do. This philosophy is dangerous unless you keep a level head. Weigh all the pros and cons. Question your motivations. Look ahead to potential repercussions down the road.

And of course, doing and not doing both have repercussions. So you have to weigh those repercussions against each other.

And sometimes you have to choose between change and no change. But in that case, isn’t “not doing” a kind of doing? Is change always the bravest, smartest thing to do? Is it sometimes equally brave and smart to not change?


I believe this philosophy to be sound. I subscribe to it. I want to live by it. I just wish it were a whole lot easier.

Photo of decision road signs is available from Shutterstock.