Wonder & the Road Not Taken

“A recent study from Berkeley’s Haas School of Business shows it’s OK to wonder about the road not taken. The scientific term for what-iffing is ‘counterfactual thinking,’ and research suggests that those who think counterfactually aren’t immobilized by regret: they may actually be more motivated.

In the Study, students wrote an essay on how they’d met a close friend. One group was told to stick to the facts; the other was asked to imagine that they hadn’t met this friend and all the ways life would be different as a result. When people in the latter group considered that friend-less life, they viewed the friendship as more significant than people in the factual group did.

Counterfactual thinking may lead people to believe that everything happens for a reason, researchers surmise, and this sense of purpose might in turn lead to constructive thinking about the future. Which, to borrow from (Poet) Robert Frost*, might make all the difference.”

– Taken from Body+Soul’s May 2010 magazine, p. 44

The Road Not Taken – Robert Frost

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim
Because it was grassy and wanted wear,
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I marked the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I,
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

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