In our eternal pursuits of happiness, we always for improvement – for bigger, better, no matter the cost. However, we forget about failure as being a beneficial lesson that gives you a reference point. Without the bad you can never fully appreciate the good. Here’s a great article by Costica Bradatan In Praise of Failure from New York Times to ponder the importance of failure.
Some of my favorite excerpts:
“Benefits of failure: It allows us to see our existence in its naked conditions…”
“Failure is the sudden irruption of nothingness into the midst of existence.”
[Realizations of] “the miracle that we exist at all when there’s no reason that we should. Knowing that gives us some dignity.”
“Preserve, cultivate, even treasure [our capacity to fail].”
“It is crucial that we remain fundamentally imperfect, incomplete, erring creatures…There is always a gap left between what we are and what we can be.”
“The gap between what we are and what we can be is also the space in which utopias are conceived.”
“Utopias may look like celebrations of human perfection, but read in reverse they are just spectacular admissions of failure, imperfection and embarrassment.”
“We will be perfectly healthy, live indefinitely, and our brains, thanks to some enhancement, will work like a computer. On that day we may be something very interesting, but I am not sure we will have what to live for. We will be virtually perfect and essentially dead.”
“Ultimately, our capacity to fail makes us what we are; our being as essentially failing creatures lies at the root of any aspiration.”
“…the capacity to fail is something that we should absolutely preserve, no matter what the professional optimists say. Such a thing is worth treasuring, even more so than artistic masterpieces, monuments or other accomplishments. For, in a sense, the capacity to fail is much more important than any individual human achievements: It is that which makes them possible.”
“We are designed to fail. No matter how successful our lives turn out to be, how smart, industrious or diligent we are, the same end awaits us all: ‘biological failure’.”
“We will all end in failure, but that’s not the most important thing. What really matters is how we fail and what we gain in the process.”
To me personally, failure has always felt as blessing in disguise (especially in retrospect). It is an immediate total paradigm shift of “your” world as you know it. It lets one to reevaluate, rest, hide, adjust, accept & make other plans. This is the place of growth and creativity. Failure forces you out of status quo and automatic pilot of your life. Seeing the benefits of failure philosophically can help us to realize that failure is a new success.
(image above is Edvard Munch’s Self-Portrait with a Bottle of Wine as seen in exhibit in Zurich, Switzerland)