Nike may have said, “Just Do It,” but Mama always said, “Do Your Best.” It is the latter mantra that compels many people to strive for perfection in the completion of average tasks and/or professional pursuits. Regardless of the activity seeking completion, no one wants to admit they didn’t achieve their goal or show signs of even the smallest hint of failure. Yet, failures and mistakes help us gain the respect and likability of others. Psychologists have even proven that embracing and accepting the imperfections of yourself and others really can lead to increased happiness.
The Pratfall Effect
Inadvertent, clumsy mistakes make people more likable. An experiment conducted by psychologist Elliot Aronson proved this to be true. For his study, a group of people took a quiz. He recorded their answers but also made a record of some participants knocking over a cup of coffee. These clumsy quiz participants were deemed more likable by the listeners of the tapes. Why? Because their mistakes made them more human.
The Spotlight Effect
In addition to our mistakes making us appear more human, they also are barely noticed. Think about it–we live in a world filled with people consumed by themselves. Often referred to as self-obsession or self-centeredness, we think only of ourselves and how we are viewed by those outside of us. But if everyone is consumed with themselves, who has time to notice our small mistakes? No one.
The Spotlight Effect simply means that no one notices you as much as you think they do. The spotlight really is not on you. So relax, make mistakes, and laugh at yourself a little.
What does this mean? This means that being human is attractive, noticed and welcomed.
Embrace and Accept Yourself
How many people are really in touch with their humanity? Being human means we are prone to err, so focusing on our mistakes is, quite simply, a mistake. If we really want to make a difference in the world or even in our own lives, accepting our flaws and imperfections is necessary and maybe even mandatory. If other people like us because they see our mistakes, it is time we like ourselves more because we are imperfect, human and, at times, clumsy.
In this way, we move forward in life and achieve other goals that are more stellar simply because we offer the world who we really are. Accept yourself!
The more we accept ourselves, the better able we are to accept others. No one is perfect. Chances are if we can accept our own imperfections, we are less likely to judge, critique, and shun others who display signs of imperfection. The fact that other people are human too means they too will make mistakes.
If we spent less time focusing on our imperfections, we could spend more time paying attention to matters outside of ourselves. Many communities are built and sustained on the labor of men and women who dedicate their time and energy to helping others. If we place our energies and interests on people outside ourselves–people who are less fortunate, lonely or sick–we have less time to ponder our own faults and idiosyncrasies. We benefit by helping others improve the quality of their everyday existence.
Finally, accepting our imperfections, then other people’s mistakes to, in turn, help others, allows us to leave a footprint on the earth that is vibrant and memorable. When people help other people, the universe notices. In time, the hard work and labor of goodwill is rewarded openly, even though the acts were done with a motive to be helpful, gracious, and kind to someone unknown.