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The Power of Regret
Cover of The Power of Regret
The Power of Regret
How Looking Backward Moves Us Forward
Borrow Borrow
“The world needs this book.” —Brené Brown, Ph.D., New York Times bestselling author of Dare to Lead and Atlas of the Heart
An instant New York Times bestseller
As featured in The Wall Street Journal and The Washington Post


Named a Best Book of 2022 by NPR and Financial Times

From the #1 New York Times–bestselling author of When and Drive, a new book about the transforming power of our most misunderstood yet potentially most valuable emotion: regret.

Everybody has regrets, Daniel H. Pink explains in The Power of Regret. They’re a universal and healthy part of being human. And understanding how regret works can help us make smarter decisions, perform better at work and school, and bring greater meaning to our lives.
 
Drawing on research in social psychology, neuroscience, and biology, Pink debunks the myth of the “no regrets” philosophy of life. And using the largest sampling of American attitudes about regret ever conducted as well as his own World Regret Survey—which has collected regrets from more than 15,000 people in 105 countries—he lays out the four core regrets that each of us has. These deep regrets offer compelling insights into how we live and how we can find a better path forward.
 
As he did in his bestsellers Drive, When, and A Whole New Mind, Pink lays out a dynamic new way of thinking about regret and frames his ideas in ways that are clear, accessible, and pragmatic. Packed with true stories of people's regrets as well as practical takeaways for reimagining regret as a positive force, The Power of Regret shows how we can live richer, more engaged lives.
“The world needs this book.” —Brené Brown, Ph.D., New York Times bestselling author of Dare to Lead and Atlas of the Heart
An instant New York Times bestseller
As featured in The Wall Street Journal and The Washington Post


Named a Best Book of 2022 by NPR and Financial Times

From the #1 New York Times–bestselling author of When and Drive, a new book about the transforming power of our most misunderstood yet potentially most valuable emotion: regret.

Everybody has regrets, Daniel H. Pink explains in The Power of Regret. They’re a universal and healthy part of being human. And understanding how regret works can help us make smarter decisions, perform better at work and school, and bring greater meaning to our lives.
 
Drawing on research in social psychology, neuroscience, and biology, Pink debunks the myth of the “no regrets” philosophy of life. And using the largest sampling of American attitudes about regret ever conducted as well as his own World Regret Survey—which has collected regrets from more than 15,000 people in 105 countries—he lays out the four core regrets that each of us has. These deep regrets offer compelling insights into how we live and how we can find a better path forward.
 
As he did in his bestsellers Drive, When, and A Whole New Mind, Pink lays out a dynamic new way of thinking about regret and frames his ideas in ways that are clear, accessible, and pragmatic. Packed with true stories of people's regrets as well as practical takeaways for reimagining regret as a positive force, The Power of Regret shows how we can live richer, more engaged lives.
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  • From the cover

    1.

     

    The Life-Thwarting Nonsense

    of No Regrets

     

    On October 24, 1960, a composer named Charles Dumont arrived at the posh Paris apartment of Edith Piaf with fear in his heart and songs in his briefcase. At the time, Piaf was perhaps the most famous entertainer in France and one of the best-known singers in the world. She was also quite frail. Although she was just forty-four years old, addiction, accidents, and hard living had ravaged her body. She weighed less than a hundred pounds. Three months earlier Piaf had been in a coma because of liver damage.

     

    Yet despite her wispy presence, she remained notoriously mercurial and hot-tempered. She considered Dumont and his professional partner, lyricist Michel Vaucaire, who had joined him on the visit, second-rate musical talents. Earlier in the day, her secretary had left messages trying to cancel the meeting. Piaf initially refused to see the men, forcing them to wait uneasily in her living room. But just before she went to bed, she appeared, swaddled in a blue dressing gown, and relented.

     

    She'd hear one song, she told them. That's it.

     

    Dumont sat down at Piaf's piano. Sweaty and nervous, he began playing his music while softly speaking the lyrics Vaucaire had written.

     

    Non, rien de rien.

     

    Non, je ne regrette rien.

     

    No, nothing at all.

     

    No, I regret nothing at all.

     

    She asked Dumont to play the song again, wondering aloud whether he'd really written it. She assembled a few friends who happened to be visiting to hear it. Then she gathered her household staff for a listen.

     

    Hours passed. Dumont played the song over and over, more than twenty times, according to one account. Piaf telephoned the director of L'Olympia, the premier Parisian concert venue, who arrived just before dawn to hear the work.

     

    Non, rien de rien.

     

    Non, je ne regrette rien.

     

    C'est payé, balayé, oublié.

     

    Je me fous du passé.

     

    No, nothing at all.

     

    No, I regret nothing at all.

     

    It's paid, swept away, forgotten.

     

    I couldn't care less about the past.

     

    A few weeks later, Piaf sang the two-minute, nineteen-second song on French television. In December, when she performed it as the rousing final number of a concert that helped rescue L'Olympia from financial ruin, she received twenty-two curtain calls. By the end of the following year, fans had purchased more than one million copies of her "Je ne regrette rien" record, elevating her status from chanteuse to icon.

     

    Three years later, Piaf was dead.

     

     

    One cold Sunday morning in February of 2016, Amber Chase awoke in her apartment in the western Canadian city of Calgary. Her then-boyfriend (and now-husband) was out of town, so the previous evening she had gone out with some girlfriends, a few of whom had slept over. The friends were talking and drinking mimosas when Chase, propelled by some combination of inspiration and boredom, said, “Let’s go get tattooed today!” So, they climbed into the car and rolled to Jokers Tattoo & Body Piercing on Highway 1, where the resident artist inked two words on Chase’s skin.

     

    The tattoo Chase got that day was nearly identical to the one Mirella Battista decided on five years earlier and 2,400 miles away. Battista grew up in Brazil, and moved to Philadelphia in her early twenties to attend college. She...

Reviews-
  • Publisher's Weekly

    November 29, 2021
    Regret “clarifies. It instructs. Done right, it needn’t drag us down,” writes Pink (When) in this pragmatic guide to harnessing the power of the past. He draws on the largest survey ever conducted of Americans’ regrets, as well as his own poll of thousands of respondents in 105 countries, to reveal the four most common types of regret: foundational (the failure to be responsible regarding education, finances, or health), boldness (the chances not taken), moral (taking “the low road”), and connection (fractured or unrealized relationships). Rather than despairing over regrets, Pink urges readers to think of them as opportunities for growth and learning, and offers a program for doing so. First, one should acknowledge the regret to “reduce some of its burden,” then grant oneself “the same... understanding offer another,” and finally, create some distance by talking about it in the third person, which can turn it into a lesson. Pink assembles an impressive array of research and includes some moving stories of people dealing with mistakes, as with one woman whose regret at not having spent more time with her grandparents “helped her to see her own life as a puzzle with meaning as the center piece.” Readers looking to shake their shame should start here.

  • Kirkus

    January 1, 2022
    A study of regret based on a series of international group behavioral studies. Culling responses from an expansive questionnaire, bestselling author Pink analyzes the cumulative benefits of hindsight to inform future decision-making. His surveys encompassed hundreds of personal stories from respondents who were able to absorb the sting of regret and channel it toward better quality of life. The author believes that while optimism is essential to improved well-being, negative emotions like regret bring clarity, meaning, and much-needed alertness. Throughout more than a dozen illuminating chapters, Pink cites examples from decades of research on the psychology behind high-stakes negotiations and the resultant regret that often followed. Dubbing regret the "quintessential upward counterfactual--the ultimate If Only," the author isolates four core categories: foundation (failure to be responsible in financial, educational, or health matters), boldness (forgone opportunities), moral (the temptation to behave poorly), and connection (unrealized potential relationship). Arguing that the open acknowledgment of regret is key to repurposing it toward the greater good, Pink gives close scrutiny to two research projects that he personally developed and championed: the World Regret Survey and the American Regret Project. The companion website for these initiatives amassed thousands of reflections from 105 countries and across a collage of cultures. Examples include a woman who regrets not climbing into her ill husband's hospital bed on the night of his death; a Saudi Arabian businesswoman who laments a tendency to downplay her intelligence and inventiveness "to please/not upset others"; and a man who, 60 years later, still mourns not taking a college classmate up on the opportunity to join the 1964 Freedom Summer project. In the final chapters, Pink offers practical guidance on how readers can thrive beyond their mistakes, molding them into learning opportunities, and how to flip the negative connotations inherent with regret into positive experiences: "By making us feel worse today, regret helps us do better tomorrow." An insightful and rewarding glimpse into the emotional pathways of human contrition.

    COPYRIGHT(2022) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

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How Looking Backward Moves Us Forward
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