Whatever happened to "What might have been"? Regrets, happiness, and maturity. Academic Article uri icon


  • Although lost opportunities and mistaken expectations are unpleasant to think and talk about, these experiences may have a role to play in personality development. Drawing on research using narratives of lost possible selves, the authors review the relations of regrettable experiences to 2 important and independent aspects of maturity, happiness and complexity. Thinking about a lost possible self is related to concurrent regrets, distress, and lowered well-being; however, elaborating on a lost possible self is related, concurrently, to complexity and predicts complexity, prospectively, over time. In this article, the authors describe the role that regrettable experiences have in promoting both happiness and complexity. Finally, expanding on previous work, the authors examine potential affordances of happy maturity and suggest psychological capacities that may promote happy maturity.

published proceedings

  • Am Psychol

altmetric score

  • 10

author list (cited authors)

  • King, L. A., & Hicks, J. A.

citation count

  • 140

complete list of authors

  • King, Laura A||Hicks, Joshua A

publication date

  • October 2007