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Don’t regret, laugh it off

Mary Claire O'Donnell | Monday, February 27, 2012

Laughter is the best medicine. If there’s one thing I have learned my senior year, it’s that. While laughter won’t heal all wounds — it can’t physically heal a stress fracture, unfortunately — it really helps dealing with situations of all kinds, whether tear-inducing, blush-causing, soul-crushing or some combination of the three.

In life, there are situations we can’t change. We’ve done things that may not have been our proudest moments. We’ve looked like a fool in front of people we wanted to impress. We’ve said things that we immediately wished we hadn’t. We’ve stayed silent when we wished we had spoken.

When these situations arise, it’s easy to regret the situation entirely. Wittier words could’ve been said. Different actions could’ve been taken. Chairs could not have been run into or tripped over. As we think over our actions and words, envisioning them going differently, we can get angry, especially at ourselves. Regret seeps into our brains.

But regret is just forcing yourself to simmer in negative emotion. Once something is done, it’s done, and all you can do is move forward. (Thanks to my friend Malia for those words of wisdom.)

You only live once, so don’t spend it in regret. Laugh at yourself and laugh off the situation.

Laughing says you aren’t letting a situation get the best of you. It’s sticking it to the man. You did something really embarrassing at a dorm party last Friday night? Now you’ve got a funny story for Saturday morning brunch with your friends. And chances are no one remembers or saw anyway. Your laughter will help remind you of the overall unimportance of whatever you did and help you forget your moment of stupidity. Fixating on your actions and ruing them just keeps them in the forefront of your mind, ready to ruin another day.

Laughing may not heal physical wounds, but it sure makes dealing with that wound easier. Only time heals stress fractures, but laughing at the vision of me limping around campus, at bars and in interviews forced me not to dwell on the things I couldn’t do while wearing a walking boot.

And you know what? It took some of my friends a week to realize I was wearing a boot. Those who did realize quickly didn’t notice instantly. I had built the boot up to be this demon, and I hated myself for deciding to try to run the Holy Half. Now it’s a funny story. Yeah, I was that girl in a Velcro boot at Finni’s for four weeks. What of it? It worked because I worked it and I didn’t let it ruin my life.

So laugh. Laugh because life is short. Laugh because regret is too easy. Laugh because funny stories are the ones that you remember 25 years later. Laugh because it’ll make you smile, and a smile is always more attractive than a frown.

And if someone tries to make you regret something you did or said, remember that only you can do that. Then respond with more words of wisdom, this time from my friend Maisie.

Imma do me. Haters fall back.

Contact Mary Claire O’Donnell at modonne5@nd.edu

The views expressed in the Inside Column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.