How to be at Peace with Your Choices. Life Lessons from the Book - The Midnight Library by Matt Haig
Updated: Sep 13
Recently I finished listening to an amazing & captivating audio book The Midnight Library by Matt Haig. It's a fiction book about a woman in her mid 30s disappointed with her life, feels like she is of no use to anybody, has disappointed everybody and feels like ending her life. At midnight, she ends her life by taking an overdose of her antidepressants. Between life and death, she enters a library called the Midnight Library where she gets to look at her Book of Regrets. She can erase those regrets by living those lives she had always wanted. In short, she can rewrite her life story and live various lives undoing her regrets. It's a very interesting take on regrets, being at peace with your choices, happiness and disappointments. Although it's a work of fiction, but there are life lessons in the book which are evergreen. Following are my learnings:
1. Mistaking Regrets to be Reality
When she first arrives in the Midnight Library, Nora reads a book full of every single regret she’s ever had in her life. These regrets torture her. They cause her so much pain that she has to put the book down. In each regret, Nora sees a wasted opportunity for success or happiness. Yet, when she gets the chance to change those regrets and see where they would’ve led her, she realizes those paths would not have made her happy after all. Sometimes, we mistake our regrets for reality, when in fact they have imagined futures we have created in our heads. Who knows what might have happened if you’d taken that job offer, or asked that cute guy/girl out on a date? Sure, it may have led to everlasting happiness. Or it may have led to you losing out on a better opportunity further down the line. When we have regrets, it’s because we’re assuming the optimal outcome, ignoring all the ways it could end badly. We like to imagine that our lives would be better if we’d made a different decision because it’s easier to think about the what-ifs instead of facing the true underlying causes of our unhappiness in the present. Read my article here on how to overcome regrets.
“It is easy to mourn the lives we aren’t living… it takes no effort to miss the friends we didn’t make and the work we didn’t do… but it is not lives we regret not living that are the real problem. It is the regret itself.” — Matt Haig
2. You Do Matter
Because we cannot see the big picture, it’s easy to assume that our lives make no difference to the world, that our influence on those around us is minimal. But that’s not the truth. What we do matters. The choices we make every single day matter. Not just to us, but to those around us too.
In chaos theory, the butterfly effect suggests that minor changes can result in sizeable differences at a later stage. Though the theory was initially applied to weather science, it makes sense in real life too. Maybe a story you shared with someone lifted their Spirit. Maybe a compliment you gave to someone for their effort, made their day. So never underestimate your importance in the world. Even a fallen leaf from a tree acts as a fertilizer to the soil. In nature everything matters and so do you.
3. Infinite Potential In & Out
Potential can be defined as having latent qualities or abilities that may be developed and lead to future success. It’s about having the power to create a better future for ourselves. We all have that power, but sometimes we forget we do, or we convince ourselves that we’ve wasted it.