I had always assumed the reason I was able to live without regret was that I made smart decisions one after the other. But somewhere along the way when decisions became decidedly more complex, and affected multiple systems, sometimes which decision was more right or more wrong wasn't as easily observed. Yet I continued to live happily in my decisions, which I then assumed was due to the perseverance to stick to the decisions I'd made without lament.
Further analysis reveals that I live without regret because I've never made rash choices out of character. At every crossroads, I've always chosen the more logical path. Perhaps not necessarily the easier path, nor the more fun path, but the one which would allow me to continue behaving in the manner I had become accustomed to.
That's not to say there hasn't been fun along the way. Sometimes the logical path is the more adventuresome of the two, and turning down adventure has also never been in my character. And of course since I find failure and fear fascinatingly effective teachers, I've also been known to choose those things as well from time to time to prove myself right, and sometimes to prove myself wrong.
In reading the INTJ community blog here on livejournal, I came across a thread where INTJs were scoffing at those who felt they needed to back up their statements with a resume of sorts - positions held or experiences had in which qualified their opinion - as not only unnecessary, but damaging to the posters reputations. One went so far to say that he would dismiss it out of hand if the poster felt he had to qualify his opinion.
Its truly amazing where I run into close-mindedness. The most open-minded and reality-creating personality group out there, and I run into this? Of course that's not the first place I've seen it, and it sadly won't be the last. No, the first was right here on this blog. Because I do believe experience counts. Its how I make nearly all of my decisions, and seek out new experiences to reinforce them. Which is why I'm flummoxed at those who'll state in the same breath that empirical testing shouldn't be placed above theoretical knowledge yet they have difficulty often making difficult choices. To me its crystal clear.
My son wanted to drop out of band because he was really enjoying P.E. at his new school and band would pull him out of that class every other day. We had a bit of a sit down after I cancelled his class because I was saddened to discover he pulled out of band before even trying it. When questioned about the importance of trying something prior to deciding, I settled upon authority.
Those who have opinions based solely upon theoretical knowledge really aren't living at all, and I've found them more close-minded than those who've walked the walk. Until you've tried and failed, you've never learned. But if you make choices based on something you've first set your hand to, you have authority behind your opinion - tangible, measurable authority.
And no one can take that away from you.