The Power of Regret: How Looking Backward Moves Us Forward - book cover
  • Publisher : Riverhead Books
  • Published : 01 Feb 2022
  • Pages : 256
  • ISBN-10 : 0735210659
  • ISBN-13 : 9780735210653
  • Language : English

The Power of Regret: How Looking Backward Moves Us Forward

"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 Must Read of 2022 by Forbes, Newsweek, and Goodreads

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.

Editorial Reviews

Praise for The Power of Regret:

"The Power of Regret dives deep into the research behind the 'most misunderstood' emotion and brings it to life through accessible human storytelling." -Forbes

"Regret could be overdue for its own rebranding. … [A] look back might be the way to move forward. We might find lessons lurking in moments we've pushed from the light. Regret has long been considered a sign of weakness, but what if we saw it as a strength?" -The Washington Post

"Prolific author Pink seamlessly blends neuroscience, psychology and more for a new look at what he sees as a misunderstood emotion-regret. Pink draws on the largest survey ever done about Americans' attitudes toward regret to reshape the way we think about it, creating his own three-step process for using regret to one's advantage in this inspiring guide." -Newsweek

"This pragmatic guide to harnessing the power of the past…assembles an impressive array of research and includes some moving stories of people dealing with mistakes…readers looking to shake their shame should start here." -Publishers Weekly

"An insightful and rewarding glimpse into the emotional pathways of human contrition. . . .Pink offers practical guidance on how readers can thrive beyond their mistakes, molding them into learning opportunities." -Kirkus

"As he so often does, Daniel Pink transformed my understanding of a subject and convinced me of the power of regret. Through his remarkable research, I learned not only what people regret, but also how to optimize those regrets. Every time I read a Daniel Pink book, I walk away a better and more informed person." -Sanjay Gupta, M.D., Chief Medical Correspondent, CNN

"I love that Daniel Pink is taking on one of the best (and toughest) teachers in my life-regret. I've always known that regret deepened my connection to myself and to others, but now, thanks to Dan's research and storytelling, I understand why. The idea of 'no regrets' doesn't mean living with courage. It means living without reflection. The world needs this book and more reflection. Now." -Brené Brown, Ph.D., New York Times bestselling author of Dare to Lead

"If you have long assumed that 'no regrets' is the way to live life, then this book is for you. The incompa...

Readers Top Reviews

P. BakerFrankS. Wink
Good book to read. I would bet that everybody has some kind of regret that are part of their growth. I can see how projecting in the future can help move you forward from whether your choices are going to matter. Writing in third person is a method helpful in fleshing out regrets. Also overhearing personal details may not work.
I've never read a book before that dived so deeply into the universally experienced emotion of regret. This is a much needed addition to any bookshelf. Dan writes with clarity and great empathy, drawing lessons that can improve nearly anyone's life. Thank you, Dan!
Jon Tyson
We all want to get to the end of our lives and stand with a full life of meaning, love and wonder. This book does a remakble job of showing how to achieve this, not through perfection, but with insight, hope and grace.
M. G. Robinson
This is one of the best books I have read in many years. Pink has opened my eyes to the significance of regret in our lives, and how it can be a force for good. His writing is clear, concise, and compelling. I would strongly recommend this book to anyone who cares about living the best life possible.
Trevor Currie
Too often regret holds us back. Thankfully, this book gives us powerful tools to change how we look at the past and flourish in the future. Daniel Pink does it again!

Short Excerpt Teaser


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 relished her adopted city. While in school, she landed a job at a local accounting firm. She made lots of friends. She even forged a long-term romantic relationship with a Philly guy. The two seemed headed for marriage when, five years into the relationship, she and the boyfriend broke up. So, nine years after arriving in America, and looking for what she called a "reset button," she moved back to Brazil. However, weeks before returning, she had two words tattooed just behind her right ear.