I like to consider myself a pretty simple guy. Some people like fancy food and restaurants, but I'm content with a cheeseburger and fries. I drive an old Buick and am not really ashamed to admit it. Observing people and trying to figure out what motivates them to act and react is kind of a pastime for me. So when I came across the above graph, I had to stop and ask some questions to myself. But first, some context.
Two of my children returned to school this week, one of which, my daughter, is a senior in high school. I find myself annoyed every time a person discovers that they're talking to high school senior, and the first question they ask is, "So where are you going to college?" I'm sure this standardized question was not purposed to annoy me, but it's as though the answer to that question will determine how others will interact with you. Heaven forbid you humbly proclaim the local community college, for you shall surely be shunned by the university bound, or alumni thereof. Or pray tell you proclaim a period of gainful employment before you make that decision, which for many is akin to anathema.
Back to our graph. As I look at the regret factor for each of these categories, not knowing how the question was posed to the respondents, my initial reaction is one of indignation. Not surprise, based on the peer shame placed on those who failed to surpass their classmates in collecting degrees with bachelors, masters and doctorate inscribed on them. But the fact that regrets over ones educational and career paths not only exceed, but many times over, their regrets over their interactions with their kids, family, friends, and God? My hope is that those polled felt they did such a good job with the spiritual and family aspects of their lives that no regrets are necessary. Although, I really don't believe that's the case.
So, my encouragement to all is this, don't major in the minors. If you convince your kids that their self worth is directly related to their school performance, they'll never find the intrinsic value that God placed in them regardless of what they accomplish. And they surely will not be able to see that value in those they interact with in life. Love 'em for who they are, not what they do, and they might just be around to wipe the slobber off your face when you're old and decrepit.