Happiness Project: Find The Fun In Failure

11/05/2008 04:12 am ET | Updated Nov 17, 2011

I'm working on my Happiness Project, and you should have one, too! Join in -- no need to catch up, just jump in right now.

I'm very competitive, and also insecure, and I hate, hate, hate the feeling of failure -- but I know that failure is a necessary part of creativity, of risk-taking, of aiming high. If I'm not failing, I'm not trying hard enough.

So one of my happiness-project resolutions is to "Enjoy the fun of failure." I really think that repeating this idea over and over has helped me to be more light-hearted about taking risks.

According to the First Splendid Truth, to be happy, we should think about feeling good, feeling bad, and feeling right, in an atmosphere of growth. Happiness research confirms that people get a big boost from learning new skills and from novel experiences, which provide that atmosphere of growth. The downside is that these activities also expose you to failure, which is unpleasant -- but if you try to avoid failure, you may avoid challenging yourself in ways that would provide an atmosphere of growth.

Take my monthly newsletter (see below). I realized that I'd developed a vague dread of sending it out. Applying the Eighth of my Twelve Commandments, "Identify the problem," I asked myself: "Why am I dreading sending out my newsletter? It should be fun, this is the kind of thing I enjoy doing!"

I identified the problem: I did enjoy doing the newsletter, but each time I sent it out, a few people unsubscribed, and that made me feel bad. Which is ridiculous. Thousands and thousands of people subscribe, of course a few people are going to unsubscribe! "Enjoy the fun of failure," I reminded myself. If I allow myself to become too upset by a few unsubscribers, then I might quit doing the newsletter. Having some failure is the price of accomplishing anything.

So allow yourself to enjoy the fun of failure.

If you'd like to read more about happiness, check out Gretchen's daily blog, The Happiness Project, or sign up for her monthly newsletter.

She promises to try not to feel bad if you "unsubscribe" later.