Dan Hough

Regret, Grudges, and Doing the Right Thing

Published 17 December 2013 in London, UK

When I was fifteen, I looked at my 10-year-old self and thought, “what a moron.” When I was twenty I looked at my fifteen-year-old self and thought, “so simple-minded!” Now I look at my twenty-year-old self and think, “so naive…”

In five years time, when I’m thirty, I’ll look back at myself now and I know that I’m going to have similar feelings. I hope, however, that I will at least give my former self the same credit that I do now: he knew that he was still learning and that he always will be. He knew that by making mistakes, even if he didn’t know that he was making them, he was going to get better and learn from those mistakes.

So, forgive your former self for the mistakes they made, and thank them for taking a bullet then so that you don’t have to now. Excuse all those stupid things they said which upset other people. Forgive them for the financial decisions which left them feeling like a complete idiot. Let them off for letting that one jerk take advantage of them. They did it all in order to make you a better decision-maker.

Forgiveness is important for staying calm in life. I’m not a religious man, so I’m not preaching forgiveness for the sake of any higher power, but simply because in most cases, it makes a lot of sense. I’m talking about holding grudges.

Grudges are what happen when you let someone irrationally occupy your thoughts and and affect your actions because of some wrong they did to you. This includes the places you can’t go, the people you can’t speak to, the conversation topics that can’t take place without their name coming up and making you upset. That all sounds like a lot of effort for little gain, and it’s just not worth it. Most grievances are based on accidents or misunderstandings that got out of hand.

It’s not easy, and I struggle with it as I’m sure many of you do. I think that trying to see the situation from someone else’s position really helps. This, too, is hard. I recently read some advice: To better understand the argument of your opponent, try arguing their side of the story.

Those are a couple of things I have been thinking about recently: learning and forgiveness. I tend to overthink a lot of things, but being able to empathise is a skill I’d really like to be better at, so that’s what I’m working on.

If you’ve read this far, thanks, and I hope that I’ve made you think a little bit. If you have any thoughts or comments let me know - heck, for all I know, in five years time I’ll be all for grudges!

Now onto the self-promotion part of my email. I’m an Independent Software Developer, and I recently left my full-time job to pursue a little more independence. I’ve written about it on my blog. I am doing a little bit of freelance and contract work at the mo so if you need a JavaScript (front-end or server) or iOS developer, or whatever, maybe I can help?


This was a post which I wrote originally when I won the Listserve Lottery. The reaction by email was extremely positive, and it was heartwarming to have touched the lives of so many people. Notable, I received a video link from @MichelleGlauser, explaining the difference between sypmathy and empathy, and explaining why empathy is important. I thought it was extremely apt given the subject of my email.

Heckle me on Twitter @basicallydan.