The Wisdom of Learning from Those Who are Ahead in Life


Just recently, the movie trilogy Back to the Future celebrated its 35th anniversary. If you’re not familiar with the movie’s premise, it is all about going back in time to correct some things to make things better for the present (or future, depending on where you are in time).

Turning Back Time

The subject of time travel has piqued a lot of people’s curiosity as evidenced by several movies, shows, and books that tackle the subject.

You have movies like Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure (and its sequels), Groundhog Day, The Time Traveler’s Wife, Hot Tub Time Machine, Avengers Endgame, and a few Star Trek movies.

TV shows such as Doctor Who, Quantum Leap, Making History, Sleepy Hollow, DC’s Legends of Tomorrow, and even The Flash, all deal with the concept of time travel to prevent bad things from happening.

If a time machine was just available on Amazon or eBay, it would probably be one of the best-selling — if not the best — in history.

Why? Because a lot of us have regrets. We all have our fair share of pondering and reflecting, thinking about our shouldas, wouldas, and couldas.

How convenient it would be to just go back in time and correct our past mistakes. Bad decisions that were made and hurtful words that were said. Things that took place because of our folly, arrogance, ignorance, or stubbornness.

Life’s Woes and Midlife

They say that life begins at 40. Some also say that your 40s are probably the best years of your life.

By this time, you already have stability — or at least some semblance of it. You already have established a good career, made some great lifelong friendships, got a lot of what you wanted when you were younger, and know where you want to go in life.

It is also around this time that you reflect and take stock of what you’ve done and accomplished so far in life. And it is then that you realize there were a lot of things within your control that you could have handled differently but were too proud to do.

Perhaps you just didn’t know any better. After all, that’s how life is. You live, you learn. You make adjustments so that you won’t make the same mistakes.

But for those who are hoping to turn back the hands of time and rectify things that need to be rectified, that’s not happening anytime soon. At best, you can only redeem yourself.

If you’re a young person, you may feel like you still have plenty of time. But time is a thief and before you know it, the years would have flown by without you noticing it. You can’t recreate your life and your circumstances. Redrafts are just wishful thinking.

Reboots, however, are not. It is never too late to start again. That’s the beauty of waking up every morning. A new day gives you the chance to start anew, to do better than your yesterday. To do the right things today, not to erase the mistakes from the past.


  • I should have spent more time with my wife and built a more loving relationship with her.
  • I should have paid more attention to my children and made the most of my time with them while they’re still with me.
  • I should have been wiser with the way I handled my finances.
  • I should have invested in that successful pain clinic my friend started and asked me to invest in a few years ago.
  • I should have taken vacations and trips a lot more.
  • I should have gone bungee jumping and skydiving.
  • I should have grabbed that once-in-a-lifetime opportunity instead of letting it slip through my fingers.
  • I should have hit the gym and exercised more.
  • I should have been more generous not just with my money but especially with my time and attention.

These are some of the typical things a lot of people regret the most. These are the mistakes from youth that continually haunt us, give us sleepless nights, lead us to anxiety and depression, and rob us of joy and life.

Leave your mistakes there. They’re hurtful reminders for you not to mess up again in the same way. They may have caused you and those around you plenty of misery, but we can use them to propel us to become better people.

They say that life has three great teachers: empty pockets, failures, and heartaches. Without these three, growth would not take place. Maturity will not come your way. Of course, this is under the premise that once a lesson has been learned the hard way, you do something about it. Otherwise, if you keep doing the same things and expect different results, you’re just fooling yourself.

People say that youth is wasted on the young. But they only realize that when they get older. They wasted a lot of opportunities for growth and maturity by buying into the idea that the youth are entitled to make mistakes. But these mistakes can be avoided if we just listen and learn from others who have been there and have done that.

There is a reason why there’s wisdom in hearing out what older people have to say. After all, they already have the battle scars to prove their survival. If we pay attention to the things they say, we can learn a thing or two about how to deal with life and its blows. We may not always have our stuff figured out but gleaning from their experience and wisdom can help us avoid the pains and the regrets they have.

Regrets are part of life. They make us human. They may be products of bad decisions and judgment calls but if we learn to embrace them and have a healthy understanding of why they are necessary for life, they can make our lives better and more beautiful.

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