The Power of Regret Book Summary - The Power of Regret Book explained in key points
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The Power of Regret summary

Daniel Pink

How Looking Backward Moves us Forward

4.6 (673 ratings)
23 mins

What is The Power of Regret about?

The Power of Regret (2022) is a rebuttal of the “no regrets” worldview. Drawing from human psychology, it shares actionable steps for transforming emotion into action and using past disappointments to shape purposeful futures. 

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    The Power of Regret
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    Regret can change lives for the better – yours included.

    On an April morning in 1888, Alfred Nobel woke up, opened the newspaper, and learned that he’d died. There it was in print – his obituary. 

    If that sounds confusing, just imagine how Alfred must have felt. 

    Of course, there’d been a mix-up. Turns out, Alfred’s older brother, Ludwig Nobel, was actually the one who had died – but the local press had mixed up the two siblings and published the wrong obituary. Because of this blunder, Alfred got the unique opportunity to see his legacy in print while he was still alive. And it wasn’t pretty.

    “The Merchant of Death is dead,” blared the scathing headline. The obituary then proceeded to condemn Alfred for inventing dynamite and other explosives that are notorious for fueling worldwide destruction. It cast him as a money-hungry, immoral man who had accumulated a fortune at the expense of others – criticizing his greed and celebrating his (mistaken) death. 

    As you might imagine, Alfred didn’t like what he saw. All at once, he was overcome by a very human emotion: regret. But rather than casting this feeling aside, as many people do, Alfred confronted his regret head on and transformed it into something more meaningful. He used it as a catalyst for change – and his life was never the same from that moment forward. 

    Eight years later, when Alfred really did die, his legacy was completely different. People weren’t celebrating his death; they were celebrating his life. Rather than being remembered as a “merchant of death,” Alfred is now renowned as a philanthropist who bettered mankind. 

    If you’re not familiar with the story, here’s why. In Alfred’s will,  he bequeathed 94 percent of his fortune to the creation of a now-famous series of prizes to be awarded to people who’d conferred the "greatest benefit on mankind" in physics, chemistry, physiology or medicine, literature, and peace. 

    Chances are, when you hear the word “Nobel,” you think “Nobel Prize” – not dynamite and death. And that’s exactly what Alfred wanted. 

    On that fateful April morning in 1888, when a newspaper published the wrong obituary, regret made a middle-aged man rethink the life he was leading and alter his trajectory in the time he had left. It was his catalyst for change – his impetus to move forward with greater purpose than ever before. And it can be yours, too.

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    About the Author

    Daniel Pink is the acclaimed author of seven books, five of which earned spots on the New York Times bestseller list. His past titles include A Whole New Mind, Drive, Free Agent Nation, The Adventures of Johnny Bunko, To Sell Is Human, and When.

    Who should read The Power of Regret?

    • Anyone who’s ever had a regret, no matter how big or small
    • Followers of the “no regrets” lifestyle who are ready to hear a new perspective 
    • Psychology fans who want to explore the underpinnings of a popular phenomenon

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