The Midnight Library – Regretting Life Decisions

Is your life full of regrets? A friend recommended the book “The midnight library” by Matt Haig to me. She read it in her vacation and said, that it is one of those books, that is packaging personal development into a beautiful story. And I have to say I agree. It is a wonderful and easy read, with a lot of take-aways. If you are struggling with regret, it might be the perfect book for you.

The midnight library is about a woman called Nora Seeds. She lives a life, that she does not really want to live in and she holds a lot of regrets, not doing things, she could have done. After her cat dies, she decides that she wants to die and kills herself. With that she ends up in the midnight library. A place between life and death. And she meets her old librarian, who keeps the books for Nora, that represent lives that she did not live.

Because with every decision we make and also the ones, we do not make, we choose a different path. And that path has all the ups and downs that came as a result of the decision made.

So it happens that Nora still gets a chance to live all the lives she regretted not living. And she learns that these lives are not perfect either. But even as she finds the perfect life, eventually she leaves it…

The book manages to playfully talk about the topics regret, hope and second chances. What I really love about it? Even though it is a magical story will all possibilities, in the end, it brings back the magic into everyday life.

Here are some key learning (some more and some less obvious), that I want to share with you.

Our life is a sum of our decisions

  • What we choose now is the direction, that our life is going to take. Even if we choose not to decide, that is also a decision we make.
  • No matter if a small choices or a big choices, they make a difference.
  • A lot of small choices accumulate, that is why habits are so important if we want to achieve something. Because each time we decide for something, we get better at doing exactly that.
  • Our lives can head in countless directions. There is no limit.

Sometimes we learn something by facing the opposite

In the book there is a scene where Nora lives in a version of her life, in which she is a geologist. That is, when she gets attacked by a polar bear and nearly dies. And in that instance, when she is afraid to die, she realizes: She does not want to die. That is a remarkable picture for me to remember and a reminder on why it so important to try out stuff. With trying we learn if it is something for us or not. So after the experience you know for sure. And fun fact: It is also favorite motto: Never try, never know.


There are things we can control and there are things we cannot. We can control us and we can even effect other people, but we cannot change them or make their life head in a different direction. And every time we actually interfere with someones life, we rob them of a chance for creation. Creating their own life. Making the mistakes that they need. Making the decisions that are important to learn, who they are in this world. Through our experiences and through the outcome of our decisions we learn who we are, what we like and what we do not like.

So: Take control of your own life and your own choices, but also give others the liberty to do the same. You do not know better than they do.


The book also shines light upon regrets. Usually people think “You only regret the things, that you have not done, not the ones you have done”. That does not necessarily have to be true though. For Nora though, at first it seems to be true, until she has lived the lives and is disappointed in them, because they are not, what she thought they would be. Ones she has lived them, she can let go of the regret.

There are upsides and downsides to every life. You just don’t know the result of the decisions you did not make or the paths, that you decided against. So do we really feel bad for not trying something? Or does it only feel bad because of us judging?

And then Matt also simply classified the three kinds of silence in partnership, which I really liked

  1. Passive aggressive – you swallow, what you really want to say
  2. No longer something to say to each other – you have talked about everything and conversation is tiring, you do not really have anything to say
  3. Not having to say anything, just being with each other – two people are comfortable with each other, but for now occupied with their own thoughts or tasks

If you ever need an easily digestable book, that also has a lot of depth to it, I can definitely recommend this one!

See you soon!