HUFFINGTON POST: The Secret to a Life of No Regrets: Live Before You DieMay 1, 2011 by Shannon

May 3rd 2011.

palm-tree-wallpaper-hdConsider a place where people feel guilty if they enjoyed themselves — because they aren’t getting anything done. Where people see free time as inferior to the un-free time of work and performance. How’s that for chutzpah? It sounds absurd yet all too familiar, because that place is all around us, the result of one of the most effective social engineering experiments of all time. The programming has convinced most of us that the very experience of life is taboo.

External approval concerns lead to more social comparisons, a fantastic way to make yourself miserable by having your status contingent on what others have or do. Focus on extrinsic goals crowds out intrinsic experiences, a study by Bruno Frey and Felix Oberholzer-Gee points out. There’s no room for anything but external results, or what Edward Deci of the University of Rochester calls “instrumental thinking.” Everything has to lead to some external gain. Anything that doesn’t — living, for instance — gets eliminated from the agenda. And you wind up with a nag you could do without, regrets. Researchers have found that what we really regret are the things we don’t do. It’s called the “inaction effect.” The taboo against living your life creates plenty of those.

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By Joe Robinson