As we create lives of happiness and meaning for ourselves, it’s easy to think that failure is not an option. We don’t realize it’s part of the practice, and that falling down is just as much a sign of growth as is getting up again.
When we set out to make a change, whether that be a habit or a new way of life, we expect ourselves to get it right. We know how to do it, we’ve learned the theory. Sounds doable. So if we’re 100% committed we shouldn’t fail, right? But then we stumble, and get mad at ourselves for being such a failure.
Check this: No matter how sincere your commitment, you are going to make mistakes. It’s natural, and it’s okay.
Give Yourself the Permission to Practice
This includes giving yourself the permission to fail and feel like crap. Especially when it comes to practicing happiness, we often feel like total failures if we still don’t feel awesome all the time. Not being happy means we’re not doing this happiness thing right, doesn’t it?
Going through phases of unhappiness is actually part of our growth. We all stumble. What’s important is that we keep on practicing with an open mind, and do our best not to judge and beat ourselves up. Happiness doesn’t thrive when we try to force it.
Since I learned some of the core principles of happiness on my trip to Oslo in April 2013, I have been feeling good more often than not. Things have developed in ways that I couldn’t even have imagined and I’m grateful for that. But I still have days or even weeks where I go back to old patterns of overwhelming myself (“I really need to do these 23893 things on my to-do list”), putting pressure on myself (“I have to get it all done NOW”), procrastinating, beating myself up about it (“You should have gotten all these things done ages ago”) and then judging myself for feeling crappy (“Why do I feel like this again? Shouldn’t I be over that by now?”).
What I’m starting to understand is that happiness is a practice, just like anything else that’s worth pursuing. It takes time, but it’s well worth the effort. Right now I’m in a place where I can see that I’m growing and that things are happening at just the right time if I allow them to. I’m happy. And even if I go back to old patterns again, that’s okay because it’s part of the practice and I learn more every time.
Have you given yourself the permission to practice and fail?