If Only

If Only : How to Turn Regret Into Opportunity

3.45 (22 ratings by Goodreads)
By (author) 

List price: US$23.95

Currently unavailable

Add to wishlist

AbeBooks may have this title (opens in new window).

Try AbeBooks


If you spend a lot of time thinking about “what might have been,” you’re not alone. InIf Only, Neal Roese, Ph.D., one of the world’s top scientists studying regret, shows us that thoughts about what might have been are practically unavoidable. In fact, they are produced spontaneously by the brain with a very practical goal—to guide us toward improvement. But the same thoughts can bring the pain of regret. Is it worth the pain to get the improvement? Or should you live life with no regrets?

Luckily, it’s not a package deal. The surprising message of If Only is that we can manage our regret style to maximize the gain and minimize the pain. In an entertaining and upbeat book that weds lively science writing to practical self-help, Dr. Roese mines the research and shares simple strategies for managing your life to make the most of regret. You’ll learn:

• Don’t Over-react. You may react to a regrettable situation by taking many fewer chances. Don’t. This only ensures that you will miss out on new opportunities.
• Think Downward. Consider the downward alternatives. How could a bad situation have gone evenworse? This makes you feel appreciative of what you have.
• Do It. If you decide to do something and it turns out badly, research shows that it probably won’t haunt you down the road. (You’ll reframe the failure and move on.) But youwill regret the things left undone.
• Regrets are Opportunities Knocking. Our brains produce the most “if only” thoughts about things in our lives that we can still change. So consider regret as a signal flashing:It’s not too late!

If Only also shows that “if only” thinking plays a huge role across our lives, from how best to buy, to why we enjoy movies, how juries decide, and the way we choose someone to love.If Only opens a new window into the way our minds work and offers clear lessons for living more happily with the past.

“Fifteen years of research have been combined into a list of the top four biggest regrets of the average American:

• not getting more education
• career regrets
• regrets in love
• not spending enough time with kids

The list is essentially a summary of the biggest traps, pitfalls, and mistakes into which people like you might blunder. Look over the list and try to identify areas of your life that represent the greatest vulnerability to future regret. And act now to avoid regret later.”

—from If Only
show more

Product details

  • Hardback | 256 pages
  • 162 x 236 x 22mm | 521.64g
  • United States
  • English
  • 0767915771
  • 9780767915779

About Neal Roese

Neal Roese is Associate Professor of Psychology at the University of Illinois. He is recognized as one of the leading researchers on counterfactual thinking and regret, and his ongoing program of research is supported by grants from the National Institute of Mental Health. He lives with his wife and two children in Champaign, Illinois.
show more

Review quote

Praise for If Only:

“Our pasts are full of regrets about what might have been and dreams about what could have been. In his entertaining and informative book, Neal Roese helps us to understand how and why we shape and attempt to alter the past. One thing is for sure: I have no regrets about reading If Only.”

--Daniel L. Schacter, William R. Kenan, Jr., Professor and Chair of Psychology, Harvard University, and author of The Seven Sins of Memory

“If only more scientists could write this well! For more than a decade, Neal Roese has been the leader in the scientific study of counterfactual thought, and in this wise, delightful book he demonstrates just how profoundly our mental lives are influenced by all those roads not taken. Solid insight and elegant prose make If Only a rare treat.”  --Daniel Gilbert, Professor of Psychology, Harvard University
show more

Rating details

22 ratings
3.45 out of 5 stars
5 18% (4)
4 36% (8)
3 27% (6)
2 9% (2)
1 9% (2)
Book ratings by Goodreads
Goodreads is the world's largest site for readers with over 50 million reviews. We're featuring millions of their reader ratings on our book pages to help you find your new favourite book. Close X