How to be happier. Spoiler: stop focusing on the wrong things

Photo by Jonas Vincent on Unsplash


I was driving around the snowy roads of BFE, stressing about all the ways I have failed in the past, the ways I am currently failing, and the ways I will potentially fail in the future. Then I was stopped physically and mentally thanks to an unusually long red light. 

Photo by Miriam Miles on Unsplash
Me, having an Epiphany.

I spontaneously realized that I had been spending the majority of my waking hours stressing about the wrong thing. Instead of expending mental anguish over the fear of failling, a more fulfilling and productive use of my mental anguish should be spent worrying about NOT succeeding. After all, as all those commercials keep reminding us, life is really short, YOLO and all that crap.

Statistically, I don't have that many productive years left. Before I know it, I will be riddled with cancer, Alzheimer's, or terminal I-don't-give-a-crap syndrome, and be (as Axel Rose so elegantly put it) knock knock knocking on heavens door.

When I worry about failing, to "stay safe" I tend to abort any attempt to do something new, to say anything controversial or potentially stupid, and as a result end up doing nothing for fear of doing something wrong. I pull on the reigns of my potential awesomeness, and say,
"Whoa girl, slow down! You don't want to fall off a cliff like poor Leo DiCaprio did in The Revenant."  
Enter new thoughts and emotions: 
"Fear! Insecurity! Guilt! Self-Consciousness!---- Eeeeek! Abort! Abort! Abort! Save yourself!"
Those thoughts evoke painful feelings, so I quit. I pull the blanket over my head to comfort myself, and as a result, suffer my own horrible self-imposed dutch oven. I still suffer (I eat a lot of broccoli---phew) plus end up accomplishing nothing. 

Back to that ridiculously long stoplight. Pondering my life,  I realized that my real failure isn't in doing something stupid, it is doing nothing. Nothing gets me no where. Nothing provides zero benefit. On my deathbed, a memory of nothing would be the most disappointing thing I can imagine. I would prefer my headstone listed out all the crazy things I tried and failed at. People would love it! There would be a continual line of admirers waiting to read about my failures as I float on a soft cloud in heaven and watch with joy.

What if, instead of spending every waking moment trying to avert disaster and checking out and watching Netflix 24/7, I spent the majority of my time thinking and working on stuff I am passionate about---like food, tv scripts, writing, family, friends, and humor?
Photo by Eli DeFaria on Unsplash
What if instead of fearing and avoiding failure, I just started viewing failure as a necessary part of the process, and didn't give it any concern? What if I viewed each failure, or stupid comment, as an experiment and a step in achieving my goal? 

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