December 7

Having harvested all the knowledge
and wisdom we can from our
mistakes and failures, we should
put them behind us and go ahead.

Edith Johnson


Today's Meditation:

I have one of the richest stores of knowledge and wisdom of anyone on this planet, for I have made more mistakes than most people I know.  Of course, I don't know all the mistakes that others have made--heck, I don't even know all of mine--but I do know that I have done some really, really stupid things in my life.  I have failed big-time in several areas of my life.  But I've also been very lucky, for I never have had the tendency to dwell on those mistakes.  Some of them have stuck with me for a while, but most I've been able to put into my past and move on without dwelling on them.

Putting them in the past does not at all diminish the importance of our mistakes, or the importance of making amends if others were involved.  What it does is allow us to move on with our lives and focus on the present moment and its possibilities.  If I'm worried about the stupid words I said yesterday, I can learn from them and not repeat them.  But if I allow them to affect me too strongly, I might be afraid to say anything at all, and thus lose some important opportunities.

Some people, though, don't want us to forget our mistakes.  They want to remind us of them, and somehow, in a sad and warped way, make themselves feel better by making us feel worse.  It's not a trap that we should fall into.  What's done is done, and there's still plenty to do and to live through before our dying day.

Mistakes and failures have much to offer us, but we do have to be aware enough to recognize that fact, and willing to internalize the lessons and messages that they have.  I'd hate to think that I've gone through the frustration and embarrassment of many of my mistakes for no real reason, and if I pull the lessons from them, then there certainly is reason enough.

Questions to consider:

What have been some of your worst mistakes?  What have you learned from them?

Why do we sometimes hold on to mistakes and allow them to affect us for long periods of time?

How can we be sure that we're putting mistakes behind us?

For further thought:

Like most people, Aunt Hattie Mae explained, I saw my mistakes as failures--setbacks and defeats to disappoint, depress, or demoralize me.  What they really are, however, are opportunities.  Because it is from our mistakes that we learn the lessons we need to develop and grow. . . . Mistakes aren't just our teachers; they're also our motivators.  They cause us to reexamine our choices, revise our plans, and, in some cases, reconsider the way we live our lives.  And change them for the better. . . . The person who makes no mistakes doesn't usually make anything.  And when you learn to see your mistakes for what they are--compulsory education--the harder you fall, the higher you'll bounce.

Patti LaBelle


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