Most of us spend life rushing from one thing to the next. We juggle multiple balls at once, constantly focusing on what we think we need to achieve—or have—in order to define our lives as successful.
We search for perfection. We wish for what life “could be,” becoming our own worst critics in the process. So often, we use the word “failure” to describe ourselves when we don’t live up to our own expectations. We are quick to label ourselves as losers when we don’t reach the unrealistic goals set by society and ourselves.
Failure is defined as a “lack of success.” We use the word to describe relationships, businesses, our health, our bodies and other people who don’t perform as we think they should. We overanalyze our failures and scrutinize ourselves in excruciating detail, trying to pinpoint the exact moment we went wrong, hoping we’ll never repeat the mistake.
But why do we describe a relationship as failed even when we have wonderful memories or children as the result of it? Why do we call entrepreneurs failures when their latest business venture falls flat? Why do we write off athletes when they don’t bring home the gold? And why are we so quick find fault with our reflections when our bodies fall short of our expectations?
The word “failure” immediately conjures negative images and emotions. It’s not a concept any of us wants to be associated with. But let’s imagine for a moment what would happen if we focused on the positive aspects of failure rather than the negative.
We could celebrate the wonderful moments we shared with our partners before the relationship broke down. We should remind our children that they are not collateral damage from a failed relationship, but rather the result of two people who loved each other once. It takes courage and trust for two people to fall in love. Relationships don’t always stand the test of time, but they do create moments that matter.
When an entrepreneur’s business idea flops, we should encourage them to recognize and acknowledge the passion and conviction it took to give their idea a go when so few of us are prepared to take life-altering risks. They are a success, even if their business wasn’t.
When we see our bodies’ imperfections in the mirror, focusing on new bulges or grey hairs that weren’t there yesterday, we shouldn’t immediately run to the gym or reach for the miracle cream. We should remember that our bodies are delicately balanced machines, and that having good health is nothing short of a miracle.
We can’t predict what tomorrow will bring. There are no guarantees and there’s no reset button to hit when things don’t go as planned. But one thing is certain: We only have one life and it will always be too short. Don’t allow the fear of failure to stop you from living your very best life. Have the trust to fall in love, the courage to embrace new opportunities and the conviction to follow your passions. Be brave, be courageous and follow your dreams.
Because at the end of the day, true success isn’t defined by the absence of failure. True success is measured in Thankful Moments—the blessings you experience, and the ones you create for others along the way.