September 8    

Today's quotation:

When we can begin to take our failures non-seriously, it means we are ceasing to be afraid of them.  It is of immense importance to learn to laugh at ourselves.

Katherine Mansfield

Today's Meditation:

It took me a long while until I reached a point at which I was able to laugh at many of my failures.  I grew up always worried about what other people thought of me, and since I was very hard on myself, I just knew that other people were judging me harshly, also, and that they thought less of me when they witnessed my failures.  So failure was always something terrible for me, something that caused me a great deal of stress and tension.

Nowadays, I celebrate my failures because they help me to learn things that don't work.  I can celebrate them because I know that in the bigger picture of life, most of what I do has so little significance that it really doesn't matter if I fail at a few things.  There are, of course, things that I work very hard at in order not to fail-- my students don't deserve to have me fail at helping them to learn, and I don't want to fail to make payments on time or fail to stop at a red light when I'm driving.  Those aren't failures that we can laugh over.

And sometimes laughter isn't called for, either-- but that doesn't keep us from accepting our failures for what they are and moving on with our lives.  "Okay, that didn't work" is a healthy way of looking at failure, as opposed to letting it bring us down and make us feel awful about ourselves and about life in general.

If I'm running a race and I come in fourth place, I didn't "fail" to win-- I came in fourth place, and that's pretty good.  If I'm just learning a language, I don't "fail" if I'm not able to translate a conversation-- but I certainly can give it my best effort, and be satisfied with that.  Part of being able to laugh at our failures is realizing that the fact that we weren't able to do something doesn't necessarily mean that we've failed, and that life goes on even if we aren't able to do everything that we attempt.

Questions to consider:

How do you define "failure"?  Are you able to laugh at your own failures?

Why do so many people have such a hard time dealing with their own failures?

What are some of the results of a fear of failure?  How does such a fear affect us in the short and long runs?

For further thought:

A failure is not always a mistake; it may simply be the best one can do under the circumstances.  The real mistake is to stop trying.

B.F. Skinner

more thoughts and ideas on failure



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