Thoughts on regret

A Danish philosopher, Kierkegaard left an interesting saying about regret. 


“Marry, and you will regret it; don’t marry, you will also regret it either way.”


Of course, this is not always true since we can find both happy couples and happy singles.   However, at least one thing is true about this saying.  There are only two kinds of “regret” in this world; one is a regret on what you did.  Another one is a regret on what you didn’t do.    “Marry” and “don’t marry” or “Did” and “Didn’t do” are completely different choice and different way.  But once we choose it, there is always possibility of regret because of the two choices we have every moment … whether we do it or not to do it.   In other words, two kinds of regrets are nothing but two kinds of actions we do every moment.


In our daily life, there are many actions or things we do….such as wake up, pray, eat, walk, read newspaper, work, study, talk, watch TV and so on…yes, we do many things in a day.  However, all actions we do can be divided into two types of actions.  They are “to do” and “not to do.”   That’s all.  This means whatever we do something, we always have a choice “to do it” or “not to do it.”    Then once we chose it out of two choices or two ways, another choice you didn’t take could be the source of regret.  


Of course, some daily actions such as eating, walking, reading or watching hardly produce regret since we can always redo it or do it later even if you chose “not to do.”   But most actions which require to choose “to do” or “not to do” at this moment cannot be redone.   Once we choose it, we cannot take it back and this is the very reason we regret.


Probably in the past, you’ve experienced you were thinking whether you should buy it or not.  In many cases, you buy it because it’s necessary but sometimes you buy it because it’s cheap.   And sometimes the one you bought was quite useless and you regret on what you bought it.   The more expensive it was, the more you regret it.  On the other hand, you sometimes regret on what you didn’t buy, especially when you are travelling.   So both shopping and no shopping can be the very source of regret.  


However, I found out there was an exception!   I noticed there was one “regret-free” action.   That’s the shopping in USA, especially at Walmart. 


In Japan, as you may know, returning policy is very limited.  You cannot return all items at all stores.   Only certain stores accept returning if the product has defects.  You need an appropriate reason to return the item. However, returning policy is guaranteed here in the US.  For me, it was amazing that you can return items with no special reasons.   This means you are “regret-free” when you shop in US.   You might regret it if you didn’t buy it, but you won’t regret it even if you bought it because of this returning policy.  


As you know, Black Friday is coming soon next month.   If you are thinking whether you should buy it or not at Walmart, you should buy it because if you didn’t buy it on sale, that’s it.  There is little chance to buy it with that price and there is high possibility that you may regret on what you didn’t buy.   And if you bought it, there should be no regret because of the return policy.   If you think you don’t need it, you can return it within 90 days.


It may be ashamed but I’m a repeat customer who often use customer service for returning.  No special reason for returning is actually necessary but they always ask me, “What’s wrong?”  My conventional phrase to answer it is “Nothing’s wrong. My wife just didn’t like it.”   Then they accept returning.