Reflections: Rev Gilbert Nisbet

The Rev. Gilbert Nisbet
The Rev. Gilbert Nisbet

THE late playwright, John Osborne, would be disappointed.

Apparently, it’s very important not to ‘Look Back in Anger’.

Those who spend their old age regretting elements of their life and being annoyed about them are destined to be less healthy than those of us who are able let them go.

Recent research undertaken at the University Medical Centre in Hamburg has found those who enter old age with feelings of regret will suffer from forms of depression happily avoided by those who don’t brood over their past.

It appears that younger people can get away with regretting things because they can do something about it, but this approach doesn’t work in later life.

So, it’s important not to spend the later stages of life brooding over things that have happened to you.

Rather, we should accept the things we can’t change and get on with life.

I was pleased to read this, although it hardly surprised me.

In fact, I was more surprised that a whole university study was required to come to this conclusion.

I had always been aware that worrying over those regrets we have is both unproductive and unhealthy.

As we go through life, there will be decisions we’ve made which we wish we hadn’t, just as there will be things we didn’t do which we come to wish we had.

There will be things that have happened to us that we dearly wish hadn’t.

However, decisions are made and events occur and we can never go back and change them.

We have to live with the things that happen to us, the good and the bad.

We have to get on with life and there’s little good for us in spending time and energy in being angry about the things we wish we’d managed to avoid.

There’s a famous prayer by the Protestant theologian Reinhold Niebuhr, which says: “God, give us grace to accept with serenity the things that cannot be changed, courage to change the things which should be changed, and the wisdom to distinguish the one from the other.”

If we make this our prayer, we will have a happy and healthier life.

The Rev Gilbert Nisbet, of Leven Parish Church, writes in the East Fife Mail.