Being thankful for my mistakes has allowed me to nurture a more fun and peaceful home – and this can help you do the same.
I think we can all agree that 2020 was quite the year – a year full of challenges and change. One thing that remained consistent was that I still noticed wins and successes, and still made mistakes. So after this especially tough year, I’m choosing to be grateful for my mistakes and failures.
A young soccer player kicks the ball in the wrong goal. Mistake.
If all these two ever do is win and achieve, how do they learn? How can we be grateful for – and even embrace – mistakes and failures?
Mistakes and failures are steppingstones
What’s so inspiring about mistakes and failures? Why be thankful for my mistakes and even welcome them? Isn’t it better to just focus on the good and ignore the bad?
Well, I’m convinced that mistakes and failures are how we learn and grow. Think about it this way – as a toddler learns to walk, she often fails to stand, let alone put one foot in front of the other. Failure.
A young lacrosse player shoots the ball in the wrong goal. Mistake.
If the toddler and young athlete only win and achieve, how do they learn?
Johnny Cash once said, “You build on failure. You use it as a stepping stone. Close the door on the past. You don’t try to forget the mistakes, but you don’t dwell on them. You don’t let them have any of your energy, any of your time, or any of your space.”
The Man in Black had a point.
The toddler and young athlete didn’t let their failures keep them down.
Let’s say you started a project this year and then got stuck or sidetracked. Is that really a failure, or just a place where you stepped off for a few? Sometimes we have days (or weeks or months) where we simply stop whatever we were doing that was good or healthy or even fun. It might be a diet, exercising, blogging, or learning something new.
Please tell me it’s not just me that that happens to!
We can use these times of mistakes or failures (or breaks), as stepping stones into something else or something new. Instead of looking back constantly and keeping track of what we didn’t do, we can choose to look forward. We can step off the mistake, lay down the failure, and get on with our lives.
Tallulah Bankhead said, “If I had to live my life again, I’d make the same mistakes, only sooner.”
A number of decades down the line and I do wish I’d learned earlier to be thankful for my mistakes and failures. They happen, they are part of life.
I see my adult children being so much more intentional about their lives and decisions. I want to be that way. I want to take what I’ve learned and mindfully embrace it and put it to use.
And thinking about looking forward, I think we should plan some time for mistakes and failures. Does that sound crazy?
I don’t think so. I think we should be realistic. Recognizing ahead of time that things might not go as planned or might even fall apart is not so much cynical but rather more intentional. Understanding that we may have down times – seasons that aren’t as productive or successful – can help us accept that life happens.
Keep mistakes and failures in perspective
“Celebrate your successes. Find some humor in your failures.” Sam Walton was a smart guy and his take on success and failure shows a lot of maturity and wisdom.
If we keep things in perspective, how does that change anything? Well, look back at that toddler learning to walk. We, as parents or grandparents, know that he will eventually learn how to take those steps. We don’t criticize him for not knowing exactly how to do it the first (or twentieth) time. We continue to encourage and nurture – we need to give ourselves the same support.
I remember watching my eldest son play lacrosse for the first time. That season one of his goals was made in the wrong goal and for the wrong team! It happens. He was devastated, to say the least, but I knew it was a stepping stone for him. He would learn from it, he would build on it and it would make him a stronger, more confident player. And it did!
Perspective – the way we look at things – can help us to accept failures and mistakes and continue to learn from them. Perspective, to me, is looking at our own life and giving ourselves the advice or criticism we might give a friend. That means embracing the mistakes and challenges as opportunities to improve and grow into a stronger, more confident person, not beating your friend or self up!
A lifestyle of gratitude
So I challenge you to be grateful for your mistakes and failures. Look back and see what kind of stepping stones they were for you. Can you be intentional and accept that sometimes life happens? And don’t forget to look for the wins and successes. They may seem small at times, but they may even give purpose to your mistakes. Just look and choose to be grateful.
As John Cena said, “If you don’t learn from your mistakes, then they become regrets.” Let’s follow up this strange year or two without regrets, look ahead to practicing a lifestyle of gratitude, and be thankful for our mistakes.
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