Lessons from the Roads Not Taken
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 Sketchy yet satisfying examination of the nature of regret and of how to use regret as a positive force in one's life. Klein (Writing/New School for Social Research; Gramercy Park, 1987, etc.) knows the right formula for constructing pop- psychology books: Put in lots of anecdotes, quotable quotes, and literary allusions, mention some research, keep the tone upbeat, use lots of italics to call the reader's attention to the significant passages, and include a self-test or two. The recipe works well here. According to Klein and psychologist Gotti, the experience of regret--the feeling that a road not taken might have been the better path--is virtually unavoidable given the myriad choices of modern life, for the more options there are, the more choices must be given up. Interestingly, the authors find, risks not taken appear to be a greater source of regret than mistakes or wrong turns. Klein and Gotti look at regret as experienced in childhood, early adulthood, middle age, and late adulthood, and conclude by exploring psychological defenses against the pain of regret, offering a number of coping strategies--including developing altruism and a sense of humor, gathering information and advice, reframing a situation to view it from a different perspective, surrendering the need to be right, and learning to seize the moment. Guidelines are offered for deciding when to seek professional help, but the take-home message is that regret is normal at any age and--when dealt with properly--it can be a constructive force in shaping a meaningful life. Easy to read, basically comforting, and occasionally enlightening.

Pub Date: July 15th, 1992
ISBN: 0-553-08925-0
Page count: 240pp
Publisher: Bantam
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15th, 1992


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