“Optimism is a perfectly legitimate response to failure.” - Stephen King
You just got fired and are home at 3:00 having wine and wondering why life keeps shitting on you. Go ahead and finish that wine. Go to bed. But the next morning, ask yourself, “What is great about this experience? Where is the silver lining or where do I get my silver pen to draw it?”
The cynic in all of us, hears this and thinks, “Oh shove it, honestly. Failure is not fun. There’s nothing ‘great’ about this.” But staying optimistic in the face of failure is not disingenuous and changing the way we approach our downfalls is the key to moving forward toward the good life.
Failure is learning and learning can be celebrated if you dig deep and help yourself see what you cannot currently see -- the high up, long-term perspective of where a shitty experience can take you.
When you squint into that long view, put on lenses of optimism and joy because... why not? What do you gain, really, from being downtrodden? Do you believe it helps you to see things more clearly? Do you think it motivates?
Risk, change and failure help us succeed, learn and grow. Making friends with failing means you increase your willingness to fail again and this, in turn, increases your chances of growth and success. Choosing an optimistic perspective over a pessimistic one is just as effective and even more of a change agent after failure. Bonus: it ultimately makes life more pleasant.
We should also acknowledge, honestly, how much of our depression about failure is the shame we have about how others see it. When your marriage goes up in flames, you’re not just personally suffering, your parents and in laws and kids and friends all have a front row seat to your personal disaster.
While you may acknowledge that the dissolution is for the best, maybe even a relief in your life, you’ve got a hand wringing crowd out there with pity filled eyes. While the obvious advice is to stop caring what others think, that’s simply not always possible. So, instead, try crafting an optimistic and heroic narrative around your failures, both for yourself and for your well meaning spectators.
In this example, that marriage taught you so much and it is, and was, a huge part of the wonderful, broken, courageous miracle you have now become. Give that failure the nod it deserves and then share that positive version with others -- the version where you triumph over a failed relationship and move on to better things. Because you will. Let a deep satisfaction about how far you’ve come fuel your joy about your future and then share the joy as much, or more, than you share the grief.
So, what will you think, say and do in the face of your next flop? This is your story and you are the main character. Why not make it a story of joy, optimism and triumph?
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