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10 Reasons Why Not Making Mistakes Is The Biggest Mistake in Life

10 Reasons Why Not Making Mistakes Is The Biggest Mistake in Life

“To err is human…” but is it necessary? Believe it or not, it’s widely believed that not making mistakes could be the worst mistake you ever make.

George Bernard Shaw said, “A life spent making mistakes is better than a life spent doing nothing.” And this is largely true. Without mistakes, we don’t know the things we like doing and we don’t learn how to improve. If most inventions and methods are improved through trial and error – not erring would mean rarely improving.

Here are 10 reasons why not making mistakes could be the biggest mistake in life:

1. Making mistakes teach us valuable lessons.

Vincent Van Gogh said, “Even the knowledge of my own fallibility cannot keep me from making mistakes.Only when I fall do I get up again.”

Making mistakes whether in relationships, work life, school or other endeavors is the key to figuring out the things we want to do and how we want to act. Only when we fail at these things can we see where we went wrong and take action to correct them. Did you hover over your girlfriend and act jealously until she felt smothered? Now you know that giving a loved one space is part of a healthy — and longer lasting — relationship.

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2. Mistakes teach us to be forgiving.

“Forgiveness is the fragrance the violet sheds on the heel that has crushed it.” – Mark Twain

Recognizing your own mistakes makes it easier to understand others’ mistakes when they happen — especially if they have directly affected you. Did you lend someone your car, only to have them crash it? Have you ever crashed a car? Or broken something that belonged to someone else? You will likely be more apt to forgive the offender knowing from where they came.

3. Mistakes help us let go of our fears.

“You can only go forward by making mistakes,” Alexander McQueen

Some people are afraid to make mistakes. Or they are afraid to try things at which they won’t be good. How can you get good at something without trying — and failing — at it first? When I first started mushing dogs, I was not good at it. My dogs tangled up. I fell off the sled at every turn. Frankly, I was a bruised up mess for a while. In fact, I was often a little afraid to go out on the sled, knowing what large tree or sharp turn I might encounter. But I kept getting back on the sled and learned to adjust my riding accordingly — becoming more athletic in the meantime. If I had let my constant mistakes and fear get the better of me, I might not be training for the Iditarod now.

4. Making mistakes is essential to living a life without regrets.

“A man’s mistakes are his portals of discovery.” – James Joyce

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How can you discover the things you like and don’t like unless you make mistakes? Maybe you think you want to be a chef so you get a job in a restaurant and they are the worst days you have ever spent. Perhaps you feel like you’ve wasted your time and it was a huge mistake to take on that job. But how would you know unless you tried it? At the end of your life, do you want to look back and see that you only made the “right” choices or wonder what might have been? If you hadn’t tried working in that restaurant you might have gone your whole life thinking you could have been a great chef — and never known how much you actually would have hated it. Mistakes mean a life without regrets.

5. Mistakes help you grow as a person.

“Experience is the name everyone gives to their mistakes.” – Oscar Wilde

And boy do I have a lot of experience at this point! I’ve made lots of mistakes but it gives me a lot of perspective as well. If I hadn’t taken those turns or gone down those paths — even when they quickly became obvious they were the wrong ones — I wouldn’t be the person I am today. I also would not appreciate my life as much as I do. If everything had come easily, the things I’ve been able to achieve wouldn’t mean as much. I can also be a more accepting and forgiving person overall, knowing how much I’ve screwed up in my own life at times.

6. Mistakes can be fun.

“There are some people who live 70 years, and there some people who live one year 70 times, repeating what they’re doing over and over in the name of the gold watch or whatever.” – Wayne Dyer

OK, maybe it’s not the right kind of fun. And maybe we shouldn’t have done that thing we did. But at least at the end of your years, you won’t have lived the same exact year every year. Mix it up. Try new things. Spending each day in the same way getting the same undesirable result is not only boring, it’s a mistake in and of itself.

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7. Mistakes lead to success.

“Fall down seven times, get up eight.” – Chinese Proverb

Most people who are an “overnight success” took years to get where they are. Do you have a goal in mind? A business you want to pursue or a race you want to win? Go look up those people in your field that you admire and find out how long and hard they worked to get where they are. While you don’t have to emulate their struggles, simply recognizing that they didn’t get where they are right away is a huge step in your own success. Everyone takes odd paths and has hard times. The more mistakes you make, the faster you will realize how much you want to do that thing you want to do — and whether or not it’s worth it.

8. Mistakes inspire us.

“Nobody made a greater mistake than he who did nothing because he could do only a little.”. – Edmund Burke

Did you break it? Do it wrong? Make it the wrong way? Screw it up? Whatever “it” is, it’s likely that if you broke it, you’ll have to fix it. Or if you did it wrong, you’ll have to do it again. The more often you have to try something or do something new, the more inspired you get to fix it and do it right. Keep working at it. Take a break and then do it again. Let your mistakes fire you up for success.

9. Mistakes serve as a warning.

“Never interrupt your enemy when he is making a mistake.” – Napoleon Bonaparte

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Sometimes mistakes don’t signal a route to success, instead they serve as a warning we should heed. Did you drive a car under the influence and almost hit a person? Did you go to a party and almost lose your job for not making it into work on time the next day? Different mistakes can mean different things and mistakes where we put our selfish desires before our responsibilities can mean trouble — but they can also serve as a warning. Heed those warnings and try to avoid making them again, so you can move forward and succeed in your journey.

10. Mistakes allow us to see how we are like others.

“The only real mistake is the one from which we learn nothing.” – John Powell

Let’s be honest, we all think we’re pretty special. Anything we do, any mistake we make, we often feel like we are the only one to experience it in the way we do. Unfortunately, that’s entirely untrue. With 7 billion people on the planet, the likelihood that we are the first to make a certain mistake — or the first to feel a certain way is really unlikely. I hate to break it to you, but you’re not special. And neither am I. But that’s OK. We are special to certain people in our lives and we can still enjoy those moments that are special to us. The greatest advantage to making mistakes is learning that we are just like other people. This gives us more empathy for others — no matter how different from us they are — and the understanding that no matter what we’ve done wrong, someone else has likely done it before.

Featured photo credit: Teenage girl depression – lost love – isolated on white background via shutterstock.com

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Michelle Kennedy Hogan

Michelle is an explorer, editor, author of 15 books, and mom of eight.

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Last Updated on January 15, 2021

7 Ways To Have More Confident Body Language

7 Ways To Have More Confident Body Language

The popular idiomatic saying that “actions speak louder than words” has been around for centuries, but even to this day, most people struggle with at least one area of nonverbal communication. Consequently, many of us aspire to have more confident body language but don’t have the knowledge and tools necessary to change what are largely unconscious behaviors.

Given that others’ perceptions of our competence and confidence are predominantly influenced by what we do with our faces and bodies, it’s important to develop greater self-awareness and consciously practice better posture, stance, eye contact, facial expressions, hand movements, and other aspects of body language.

Posture

First things first: how is your posture? Let’s start with a quick self-assessment of your body.

  • Are your shoulders slumped over or rolled back in an upright posture?
  • When you stand up, do you evenly distribute your weight or lean excessively to one side?
  • Does your natural stance place your feet relatively shoulder-width apart or are your feet and legs close together in a closed-off position?
  • When you sit, does your lower back protrude out in a slumped position or maintain a straight, spine-friendly posture in your seat?

All of these are important considerations to make when evaluating and improving your posture and stance, which will lead to more confident body language over time. If you routinely struggle with maintaining good posture, consider buying a posture trainer/corrector, consulting a chiropractor or physical therapist, stretching daily, and strengthening both your core and back muscles.

Facial Expressions

Are you prone to any of the following in personal or professional settings?

  • Bruxism (tight, clenched jaw or grinding teeth)
  • Frowning and/or furrowing brows
  • Avoiding direct eye contact and/or staring at the ground

If you answered “yes” to any of these, then let’s start by examining various ways in which you can project confident body language through your facial expressions.

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1. Understand How Others Perceive Your Facial Expressions

A December 2020 study by UC Berkeley and Google researchers utilized a deep neural network to analyze facial expressions in six million YouTube clips representing people from over 140 countries. The study found that, despite socio-cultural differences, people around the world tended to use about 70% of the same facial expressions in response to different emotional stimuli and situations.[1]

The study’s researchers also published a fascinating interactive map to demonstrate how their machine learning technology assessed various facial expressions and determined subtle differences in emotional responses.

This study highlights the social importance of facial expressions because whether or not we’re consciously aware of them—by gazing into a mirror or your screen on a video conferencing platform—how we present our faces to others can have tremendous impacts on their perceptions of us, our confidence, and our emotional states. This awareness is the essential first step towards

2. Relax Your Face

New research on bruxism and facial tension found the stresses and anxieties of Covid-19 lockdowns led to considerable increases in orofacial pain, jaw-clenching, and teeth grinding, particularly among women.[2]

The National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research estimates that more than 10 million Americans alone have temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMJ syndrome), and facial tension can lead to other complications such as insomnia, wrinkles, dry skin, and dark, puffy bags under your eyes.[3])

To avoid these unpleasant outcomes, start practicing progressive muscle relaxation techniques and taking breaks more frequently throughout the day to moderate facial tension.[4] You should also try out some biofeedback techniques to enhance your awareness of involuntary bodily processes like facial tension and achieve more confident body language as a result.[5]

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3. Improve Your Eye Contact

Did you know there’s an entire subfield of kinesic communication research dedicated to eye movements and behaviors called oculesics?[6] It refers to various communication behaviors including direct eye contact, averting one’s gaze, pupil dilation/constriction, and even frequency of blinking. All of these qualities can shape how other people perceive you, which means that eye contact is yet another area of nonverbal body language that we should be more mindful of in social interactions.

The ideal type (direct/indirect) and duration of eye contact depends on a variety of factors, such as cultural setting, differences in power/authority/age between the parties involved, and communication context. Research has shown that differences in the effects of eye contact are particularly prominent when comparing East Asian and Western European/North American cultures.[7]

To improve your eye contact with others, strive to maintain consistent contact for at least 3 to 4 seconds at a time, consciously consider where you’re looking while listening to someone else, and practice eye contact as much as possible (as strange as this may seem in the beginning, it’s the best way to improve).

3. Smile More

There are many benefits to smiling and laughing, and when it comes to working on more confident body language, this is an area that should be fun, low-stakes, and relatively stress-free.

Smiling is associated with the “happiness chemical” dopamine and the mood-stabilizing hormone, serotonin. Many empirical studies have shown that smiling generally leads to positive outcomes for the person smiling, and further research has shown that smiling can influence listeners’ perceptions of our confidence and trustworthiness as well.

4. Hand Gestures

Similar to facial expressions and posture, what you do with your hands while speaking or listening in a conversation can significantly influence others’ perceptions of you in positive or negative ways.

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It’s undoubtedly challenging to consciously account for all of your nonverbal signals while simultaneously trying to stay engaged with the verbal part of the discussion, but putting in the effort to develop more bodily awareness now will make it much easier to unconsciously project more confident body language later on.

5. Enhance Your Handshake

In the article, “An Anthropology of the Handshake,” University of Copenhagen social anthropology professor Bjarke Oxlund assessed the future of handshaking in wake of the Covid-19 pandemic:[8]

“Handshakes not only vary in function and meaning but do so according to social context, situation and scale. . . a public discussion should ensue on the advantages and disadvantages of holding on to the tradition of shaking hands as the conventional gesture of greeting and leave-taking in a variety of circumstances.”

It’s too early to determine some of the ways in which Covid-19 has permanently changed our social norms and professional etiquette standards, but it’s reasonable to assume that handshaking may retain its importance in American society even after this pandemic. To practice more confident body language in the meantime, the video on the science of the perfect handshake below explains what you need to know.

6. Complement Your Verbals With Hand Gestures

As you know by now, confident communication involves so much more than simply smiling more or sounding like you know what you’re talking about. What you do with your hands can be particularly influential in how others perceive you, whether you’re fidgeting with an object, clenching your fists, hiding your hands in your pockets, or calmly gesturing to emphasize important points you’re discussing.

Social psychology researchers have found that “iconic gestures”—hand movements that appear to be meaningfully related to the speaker’s verbal content—can have profound impacts on listeners’ information retention. In other words, people are more likely to engage with you and remember more of what you said when you speak with complementary hand gestures instead of just your voice.[9]

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Further research on hand gestures has shown that even your choice of the left or right hand for gesturing can influence your ability to clearly convey information to listeners, which supports the notion that more confident body language is readily achievable through greater self-awareness and deliberate nonverbal actions.[10]

Final Takeaways

Developing better posture, enhancing your facial expressiveness, and practicing hand gestures can vastly improve your communication with other people. At first, it will be challenging to consciously practice nonverbal behaviors that many of us are accustomed to performing daily without thinking about them.

If you ever feel discouraged, however, remember that there’s no downside to consistently putting in just a little more time and effort to increase your bodily awareness. With the tips and strategies above, you’ll be well on your way to embracing more confident body language and amplifying others’ perceptions of you in no time.

More Tips on How to Develop a Confident Body Language

Featured photo credit: Maria Lupan via unsplash.com

Reference

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