IF ONLY: How to Turn Regret into Opportunity

Neal Roese, Author . Broadway $23.95 (256p) ISBN 978-0-7679-1577-9

Who hasn't dwelled at some point on what they could have done differently? Such regrets can be demoralizing, but Roese suggests that we engage in this kind of counterfactual thinking all the time, and that it can be not only good for us but an essential component of how we act. Negative emotions like regret keep us from repeating mistakes and motivate us to improve. Roese, a psychologist at the University of Illinois, has plenty of studies at hand, but the most convincing passages are those that personalize the issues, like a look at the difference between silver medalists frustrated by their near-miss and bronze medalists who are happy to have a prize at all. Roese also takes examples from pop culture, including Marlon Brando's character in On the Waterfront, to show how we constantly imagine different lives for ourselves—and the author even shares his own career experiences to explain how regret can be harnessed to make positive decisions. In the long run, he advises, the old saw is true—you'll regret what you didn't do more than what you did, so don't be afraid to take chances. Recommended actions, such as bouncing back from adversity and maintaining perspective, are fairly commonsensical, but Roese's amiably chatty spin should make light bulbs click over quite a few readers' heads. Agent, Eileen Cope. (On sale Jan. 11)

Reviewed on: 10/04/2004
Release date: 01/01/2005
Peanut Press/Palm Reader - 978-0-7679-2023-0
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