Article Round-Up: May 19-25

Y’all. I slept in until 9:45. Considering that I’m usually up and at ’em around 7 on weekends, this is unheard of!

It’s amazing what a good night’s sleep can do. Now that I’m comfortably settled into my 30s (and thus no longer trying to be cool by going out and partying on the weekends), I find that I get really excited about the idea of going to sleep. There have been many, many times when I find myself thinking — usually sometime around 7 p.m. — “Man, I can’t wait to go to bed. Sleeping is going to be awesome.”

Sho ’nuff, it is. Sleeping FTW.

Anyways, all that is meant to explain why I’m late in posting this — but hey, better late than never, right?

I hope everyone is having a fantastic weekend, and that some R&R is in everybody’s future. Happy reading!

 

Health & Fitness:

NYT: For a Better Smoothie, Just Add Chia Seed

Time: Mediterranean Diet Better Than Low-Fat Diet in Keeping Aging Brains Sharp

NPR: Fifteen Years After Vaccine Scare, a Measles Epidemic

Guardian: Walking Works – So Why Are We So Sedentary?

Huff Po: Breakfast Around the World – Healthy Ideas from Abroad

 

Stress Relief, Happiness, & Life Management:

Psychology Today: Find Your Passion, Find Your Strengths

Blisstree: Morning Time-Savers: Get Ready for Work Post-Gym in 15 Minutes or Less

Greatist: 10 Unexpected Ways to Meditate Every Day

Mind, Body, Green: 10 Fun Ways to Reduce Your Cortisol Levels

Huff Po: Happiness Tips – 9 Simple Steps to Joy

 

Gender Issues:

Atlantic: Towards a More Expansive Definition of ‘Princess’

Huff Po: Honoring America’s Women in the Military

Slate: Meteor Employee Shoots Bulls-Eye Against Sexism, With Help from the Hawkeye Initiative

Atlantic: You Don’t Have to Have Kids to Be a Great Mother

 

Humor & Warm Fuzzies:

Huff Po: Dogs and Babies Sleeping Are What The World Needs Now

Huff Po: This Memorial Day, a Simple Act of Kindness

Buzzfeed: 25 Signs You’re Addicted to Reading

Buzzfeed: One Team Has Perfected the Post-Game Photobomb (*this one made me laugh so hard I cried)

Grown-Up Saturday Morning Cartoons: Article Round-Up for May 12-18

Good morning, and happy Saturday!

I hope everyone’s weekends are off to a good start – what are y’all up to this weekend? Is anyone planning to see the new Star Trek movie? (Not gonna lie: I’ve been looking forward to that for months – I can’t wait to see it!)

In addition to our Trekkie plans, I’m excited to do some cooking that will, pleaseohpleaseohplease, yield better results than this week’s Great Crock Pot Experiment. GF blueberry pancakes, Mexican breakfast scramble, and these banana bread protein bars from Oh She Glows are all on deck — the kitchen will look like a disaster area once I’m done, and I’ll probably start weeping when I see all the dirty dishes, but oh well.

 

16 Reasons Adele Is A Flawless Angel Walking Among Us

 

On the workout front, I decided to go running yesterday and give my muscles an extra day of recovery before my next lifting session. I fired up my beloved Charity Miles app and busted out a few miles for Girl Up, a United Nations Foundation campaign that enables American girls to help raise awareness and funds for UN programs focusing on women and girls in the developing world. (How cool is that? I seriously wish these sorts of things had existed when I was a teenager, because I would’ve been all over this like white on rice.)

 

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Anyways, since I ran yesterday, today’s workout will involve getting my strength training on. For now, though, I’m doing some reading while enjoying a cuppa joe.

I apologize for the fact that there are so many articles in this week’s round-up. There are just so many good ones, and I couldn’t decide which ones to post…so I posted all of them. (Sorry, sorry!) I figured this would allow y’all to decide which ones you want to read instead of me deciding for you. It’s a mo’ betta approach, right? 🙂

Happy reading, and have a lovely Saturday!

 

Health & Fitness:

Mind, Body, Green: 10 Free Ways to Optimize Wellness

Greatist: 15 Key Resources for Women’s Health

NYT Well: When Athletic Shoes Cause Injury

Greatist: The Advanced No-Gym Workout

Kylie Bisutti, Former Victoria’s Secret Angel, Reveals Drastic Weight Loss Methods Involved

 

Stress Relief & Happiness:

HuffPo: Boost Your Mood: Simple Moves To Help You Feel Happier

NYT Well: Shaking off Loneliness

HuffPo: Meditation for the Time-Deprived

Mind, Body, Green: Use Your Unique Gifts to Serve the World

 

Gender Issues:

Atlantic: What if Men Stopped Dating Much Younger Women?

Blisstree: If You Have ‘Tiny Breasts,’ You’d Better Be Prepared to Make Up for It

Washington Post: No Merida Makeover? ‘Brave’ Director Brenda Chapman on Disney Princesses and ‘Sexing Her Up’

The Frisky: I Was Sexually Harassed At The Corner Store

HuffPo: Men Experience Simulated Labor (side note: the best quote in here is”Stop smiling!“)

 

Humor and Warm Fuzzies:

Slate: My Husband’s Other Wife

Tiny Buddha: When You Don’t Get What You Want, Something Better May Be Coming

*More tattoo fails!* The Most Blatant Spelling and Grammar Mistakes Ever Seen in Tattoos

Happy Place: Stolen Laptop Returned Bedazzled, Full of Jesus-y Photos

Article Round-Up: May 5-11

Good morning — I hope everyone’s weekend is off to a good start!

Today is gray and rainy here in DC (although we did get an impressive thunderstorm last night, which yours truly luuuuuurved), so it’ll be an opportune time to go see a movie. Great Gatsby: I’m lookin’ at you, kid!

In any event, though, I plan to do quite a bit of reading. For those of you who also love your weekend reading, this week’s article round-up is below — grab a cuppa joe and enjoy!

Health & Fitness

NYT Well: The Scientific 7-Minute Workout

HuffPo Healthy Living: Breast Cancer and Diet: Not Just What, But When

NYT Well: Owning a Dog Linked to Reduced Heart Disease Risk

Greatist: 14 Must-Try Tools to Speed Recovery

NYT: Turning a Smartphone Into a Workout Buddy

NPR: Price Break for Cervical Cancer Vaccines in the Developing World

 

Stress Relief & Happiness

HuffPo: Reasons to Keep Dreaming

Mind, Body, Green: 11 Easy Ways to Slow Down and Find Balance

Greatist: The Myth of Happiness — And How to Truly Be Happy

Mind, Body, Green: Are Your Limiting Beliefs Keeping You from Happiness?

HuffPo: Learning to De-Stress in the Wake of Bad News, National Tragedy, and Terror

 

Gender Issues

Slate: Air Assault: Sexual Assaults in the Military are Skyrocketing

Atlantic: What a Mother Needs Most is Time

Slate: The Problem with Merida’s Princess Makeover

Guardian: The Most Incongruous Book Covers of All Time

 

Humor & Warm Fuzzies

The Calming Manatee

Buzzfeed: The 20 Best Carrot Hugs of All Time

HuffPo: High School Baseball Team Lifts Car off Student; Saves Her Life

Buzzfeed: 47 Tattoos Being Regretted as We Speak

Grown-Up Saturday Morning Cartoons/Article Round-Up: April 29 – May 4

Good morning, y’all — I’m a bit fuzzy-brained this morning after staying up waaaaaaay too late reading, so I’m nursing a behemoth cup of java as I write this.

For me, at least, there are few things more enjoyable than getting totally sucked into a book. I love it when I can’t bring myself to put a book down, even as my eyelids start feeling like they’ve been weighted with anvils. (Eventually the need for sleep wins out, but this is basically the only context in which I’ll fight off the desire to head out to dreamland.)

The only problem with this situation comes when my body decides it wants to wake up early, in spite of having stayed up late the night before. Habits die hard, y’all.

Anyways, this week’s article round-up is below; grab a beverage, read, and enjoy!

 

Health and Fitness:

MindBodyGreen: 5 Ways to Naturally Reduce Inflammation in Your Body

NYT: The Problem of Breast Pain in Women Who Exercise

NPR: A Sleep Gene Has a Surprising Role in Migraines

MindBodyGreen: How to Shop for Safe Supplements and Vitamins

Huffington Post: May Superfoods in Season This Month

 

Stress Relief and Life Management:

Blissful Healing Arts: CAUTION: Work In Progress, or The Problem With Perfectionism

Huffington Post: Common Stress Relief Tricks: What Works and What Doesn’t?

Greatist: Yoga Isn’t Just Good For Your Mind, It’s Good For Your Genes

 

Gender Issues:

Feministing: The Cross-Dressing Kurd Men for Equality

Atlantic: Marissa Mayer’s Potentially Revolutionary Paternity Leave Policy

Slate: Stephanie Stewart, Amy Clark, and Others Shine a Light on Pregnancy Discrimination

Atlantic: The Benefits of Men and Women Being Friends, Even if One is Married

 

Humor and Warm Fuzzies:

NPR: From Battlefield to Boston, Marine Comforts Bombing Survivors

Buzzfeed: Dream Job Alert: Surrogate Gorilla Mother

StudentBeans: 22 Geniously Defaced Textbooks and Exam Papers

Buzzfeed: The Most Ironic Things That Have Ever Happened

5 Random Things That I’m Loving Lately…And Some Epiphanies

Happy Friday, y’all! TGIF! Friday, Friday, everybody’s glad it’s Friday! (Am I the only person who gets Rebecca Black stuck in her head every single week?)

As I’ve mentioned before, I tend to get really excited about random little things. New shampoo? Excited. New songs on my workout playlist? Excited. New coffee mug? Practically crawling out of my skin with excitement.

I’ve occasionally been told that I’m too easily amused, but I see it a bit differently. As far as I’m concerned, my low threshold for happy dancing makes it easy to do what so many happiness and self-help gurus keep talking about: appreciating and being grateful for the little things in life.

So, with that in mind, here are 5 random things that have induced more than a few happy dances around here.

1) On a whim earlier this week, I picked up some Goody Spin Pins from CVS. I’d run out of hair ties, and I was re-stocking when the Spin Pins caught my eye.

Image source: makeupandbeautyblog.com

 

Considering that I spend all summer abandoning all hope of doing my hair — heat and humidity turn my tresses into a hot mess, and I don’t like spending four months looking like my head was mauled by a misshapen shrubberyI rely on loose chignons and buns to get me through those oppressively hot months.

And, wouldn’t you know, that’s exactly what the Spin Pins were made for.

After using them, I can say this much: my gawd, these things are awesome. They worked like a dream, which is really saying something considering that virtually nothing works like it’s supposed to on my hair. I twisted them into the loose bun I’d pulled up, et voila:

image(5)

I must say, I’m seriously excited about these bad boys. Summer hairstyling is going to be a breeze with these things in my arsenal!

image(7)

 

2) Wearing my favorite pink jacket to work, DC fashion rules be damned.

Five years ago, I was shopping with my mom when a fabulous pink jacket from the Gap made me gasp audibly in delight. (I know that as an ardent feminist I’m not supposed to love pink, girly things and blah blah blah, but the fact is –as you may have discerned from the color schemes on this blog — I love pink.)

I bought the jacket as a graduation present for myself, only to never wear it upon arriving in DC. I was worried that no one would take me seriously if I rolled up in such a bright, feminine statement piece. Black pant suits are ubiquitous here, and there seems to be an unspoken rule that if you want to be respected and taken seriously, you can’t wear bright or overtly feminine clothes. And, y’know, this jacket is both bright and feminine. Trepidation ensued.

Recently, though, I’ve reached the point where I’ve just plain had it with all the unspoken rules about how to look and behave in DC. I am, by nature, goofy, funny, creative, innovative, expressive, and girly — all of which are big no-nos here.

Judy Garland I don't care

However, last few weeks I’ve found myself repeatedly thinking “F**k it. I can’t keep pretending to be someone I’m not in order to conform to cultural norms here. I can’t keep suppressing all these key elements of my personality. If I’m never taken seriously, then ok — but I’m tired of not being myself.”

When I opened up our coat closet this week, I saw my beloved pink jacket, and I knew: it’s time. Loud and proud, baby.

image(6)

 

3) The spate of gorgeous, spring-like weather we’ve had — and are supposed to continue having through the weekend — and the fact that the trees are now fully leaved.

Last night I was finally able to talk to my best friend (it’s tough to make our schedules work, since she’s in Seattle and thus three hours behind DC), and I decided to walk home from work in order to spend time outside while talking to her. It’s a four-mile walk along a gorgeous path, and I loved every second of it.

Some scenes from my walk:

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4) I luuuurve the new ring tone  on my phone. I was less than thrilled by the factory-setting ring tones on my iPhone, and I decided this week to see what other options are out there. I was sampling the most popular ones on iTunes when I thought “Waaaaaaaait a second. I wonder if they have Monty Python ring tones. Let’s check that out.”

A moment of context here: I love Monty Python. I come from a family of Monty Python (and British humor) devotees, and it’s to the point where we’ll all spontaneously re-enact scenes from our favorite movie, Monty Python and the Holy Grail.

Lo and behold, there’s a Monty Python and the Holy Grail ringtone! You’d best believe I downloaded it immediately, and now I do this whenever my phone rings:

 

5) Using egg white protein powder and almond milk in my morning smoothies, which gives me a luxuriously thick and creamy breakfast treat each morning.

This is a big deal for me for two reasons: first, I’ve been on a search for good protein powder that has, at times, felt like a scene from The Odyssey. My Greek epic novel-length quest has been frustrating, either in dealing with protein powders that taste awful or leave my stomach in a state of open rebellion — so I was profoundly happy when I found Jay Robb’s Egg White Protein Powder. This stuff is delicious, not chalky, and it hasn’t provoked any backtalk from el estomago.

Then we have the almond milk: I freaking love that stuff, but I haven’t been using it in my smoothies because, y’know, it has calories. I’d been using water instead, which — shockingly — lead to watery and decidedly meh smoothies. Just like my realization that I’m tired of conforming to DC cultural norms, I realized that I’m also tired of looking for every possible way to cut calories.

I love my almond milk, it’s good for you (all that calcium!), and I’m just plain tired of cutting myself off from foods I love — foods that are nutrient dense and actually really good for you — simply because they might be calorically dense as well. I want my granola, I want my pistachios, I want my GF bread with flax seeds, and dang it, I want  almond milk in my smoothies.

So, for the second time in recent weeks, I said “F**k it! I’m doing what I want in spite of all the nutritional advice to just use water and save calories. Almond milk it is!” Not surprisingly, using almond milk has turned my daily green smoothie into a thing of delicious glory. It’s thick, smooth, creamy, and generally mouthwatering.

All in all, I’m amazed by how good I feel after both the pink jacket and almond milk epiphanies. Deciding to dispose of generally ridiculous DC fashion rules and less-than-helpful nutritional advice made me feel like a weight had been lifted from my shoulders. After trying so hard to be the round peg who contorts herself in an effort to fit into the square hole, calling it like it is made me feel really effing awesome.

So, with that in mind, I hope everyone has an awesome Friday! Here’s to the weekend being within reach, y’all. 🙂 Some questions for you:

What do you like to use in your smoothies?

Do you have favorite movies that you quote, like, all the effing time?

Have you ever tried to ignore or suppress parts of your personality in order to fit in?

Grown-Up Saturday Morning Cartoons: Article Roundup

G’morning, y’all — imagine me raising my ginormous mug of coffee in the general direction of the computer screen and saying something along the lines of “Cheers, my friends, and happy Saturday.”

True to my usual style, Brandon and I spent last night watching Breaking Bad (we’re thisclose to being caught up), and I fell asleep on the couch at 10. I live a wild life, people. Between my dinner of leftover pad Thai, the sweatpants and hoodie I donned, and my superpower ability to fall dead asleep in front of the TV at 10 p.m. on a Friday night, let there be no doubt: Aerosmith’s Livin’ On The Edge was written about me. Obvi.

Anyways, I’m hoping Brandon and I can power through the remaining episodes of Breaking Bad, because yesterday I had an epiphany: spending all my evenings watching 2-3 hours of TV is, well, basically ruining my life. (What do you mean, “being dramatic” and “over-exaggerating”? I’M NEVER DRAMATIC, AND I NEVER EVER EXAGGERATE.)

Seriously, though: I usually spend my evenings writing, and then I work out in the mornings before work. Since the Breaking Bad marathon commenced, though, I haven’t had time to write in the evenings, which means it’s been relegated to the mornings. My mornings are already on a tight schedule, so writing in the morning has meant that I haven’t had any time to work out. I become a cranky, grouchy mess when I don’t work out, so that’s problem number one.

Problem number two? It takes me some time to put together a post that I really like, and there’s just not enough time for it in the mornings. I’ve repeatedly missed the bus during its more reliable time frame, which means I’ve also been late for work more than I’d like to admit. Which means I then have to stay late, which means I have to start cooking dinner as soon as I get home, which means there’s no time to work out in the evenings, which brings me back to problem number one about becoming cranky due to my lack of exercise.

So, like I said: it’s ruining my life. I really, really, really hope we can get caught up on the rest of Season 5 this weekend so I can go back to my normal routine. Pray for us, people.

In the meantime, though, it’s time for the weekly round-up of articles. Grab a beverage (preferably one with caffeine), unwind, get your read on, and enjoy. 🙂

Health & Fitness:

NPR: Maybe Isolation, Not Loneliness, Shortens Life

NYT Well: Extra Fiber for Stroke Prevention

Greatist: Seven Bodyweight Exercises We’re Doing This Week

Time: Multiple Vaccinations On The Same Day Doesn’t Raise Autism Risk

 

Gender Issues:

Time: In Saudi Arabia, Women’s Voices Are Starting To Be Heard

MissRepresentation: #NotBuyingIt – Victoria’s Secret’s “Bright Young Things” and “Thigh Gap”

HuffPost Women: Real Bikini Bodies Look Like This

The Accidental Devotional: The Day I Taught How Not To Rape

NPR: In India, Discrimination Against Women Starts in the Womb

 

Happiness & Stress Relief

Everyday Health: 6 Ways To Reduce Stress and Protect Your Heart

Fast Company: Buddha Had It Right: Relax The Mind and Productivity Will Follow

NYT Well: Easing Brain Fatigue With A Walk In The Park

 

Humor & Warm Fuzzies:

NYT: Rabbi Herschel Schacter Dies At 95; Cried to Jews of Buchenwald: “You Are Free”

Found The Marbles: 20 Acts of Kindness You Can Do From Your PC, Tablet, or Phone

BuzzFeed UK: 28 Newspaper and Magazine Layout Disasters

Time: The 5 Best Comedy Clips of the Week

BuzzFeed: 31 Kids Who Just Had Their Lives Ruined By The Easter Bunny

Overcoming Perfectionism: The Matter of Mindset

First and foremost: HAPPY FRIDAY!

Yup. That about covers it.

It’s been a nutty week, but in the wake of Tuesday’s post on perfectionism, the wheels in my brain started turning. The wave of responses made me realize that a ton of us are doing battle with the demon of perfectionism — and if our collective misery with this motif is any indication, the perfectionism seems to have the upper hand.

Once I realized this, I had a little epiphany: I want to figure out why so many of us feel an overwhelming need to be perfect.

I want to get to the root (or roots, since it’s probably a pretty complex thing) of this and figure out how to de-claw the beast. To mix my metaphors, it’s probably not possible to slay the dragon and make perfectionism go away altogether, but it might be possible to at least mitigate it.

So, I started doing some research. (What can I say? I’m both a nerd and the daughter of a professor — so I’m fairly certain that a love of research is woven into my DNA.)

While there are probably many, many things that factor into causing perfectionism, the first thing I read about is the issue of mindset. What’s mindset, you ask? Well, my friend, you’ve come to the right place!

First, it’s an awesome book by Carol Dweck. (Here’s the Amazon link. You should buy it. Seriously, it’s worth every penny.)

Source: richerlife.com

As Dr. Dweck discusses in the book, after years of both teaching psychology and basically doing a metric ton of psychological research, she realized that there are two fundamental mindsets that people tend to have: the fixed mindset and the growth mindset.

I’ll get to the growth mindset in a moment, but here’s a compilation of quotes on how she describes people with the fixed mindset:

Believing your qualities are carved in stone — the fixed mindset — creates an urgency to prove yourself over and over. If you have only a certain amount of intelligence, a certain personality, and a certain moral character — well, then you’d better prove that you have a healthy dose of them. It simply wouldn’t do to look or feel deficient in these most basic characteristics.

[For people with a fixed mindset] Every situation calls for a confirmation of their intelligence, personality, or character. Every situation is evaluated: Will I succeed or fail? Will I look smart or dumb? Will I be accepted or rejected? Will I look like a winner or a loser?

In the fixed mindset it’s not enough just to succeed. It’s not enough to look smart and talented. You have to be pretty much flawless. And you have to be flawless right away.

[In the fixed mindset], it’s crucial to be perfect right now…because one test — or one evaluation — can measure you forever. … That’s why they must succeed perfectly and immediately. Who can afford the luxury of trying to grow when everything is on the line right now?

Ok, so after reading the first few chapters of the book, I basically felt like Dr. Dweck had spent untold hours hanging out in my head and recording snippets of my inner monologue. I’m a classic case of a fixed mindset person, and holy mother of God, is it ever exhausting and  effing miserable.

The growth mindset, by contrast, is

“based on the belief that your basic qualities are things you can cultivate through your efforts. Although people may differ in every which way — in their initial talents and aptitudes, interests, or temperaments — everyone can change and grow through application and experience.”

Que the lightbulb going on over my head. I’d never thought of it this way. Never. I’ve spent the bulk of my life being deeply entrenched in the fixed mindset, and it never occurred to me to focus on growth, cultivating new skills (I’m one of those people who, if I’m not immediately good at something, I get frustrated/righteously pissed off and walk away), or, y’know, cutting myself some slack.

Source: fitfluential.com

But ehrmagherd, y’all: once I started reading more about the growth mindset and the growth-focused approach to life, I felt like a huge weight was starting to lift off my shoulders. A burden I’ve been carrying around for 32 years started to lighten. It was pretty astonishing.

With tall that being said, I’ll obviously write a lot more about the growth mindset, other sources of perfectionism, and how to overcome it — and, in fact, I plan to do a whole series of posts on this. So, here’s to a) the weekend, and b) the upcoming Overcoming Perfectionism series!

Perfectionism, Failure, And The Growth Mindset

Hi, my name is Lillian, and I’m a recovering perfectionist.

Perfectionism has been my public enemy number one for as long as I can remember. (Y’know, insofar as something can be a public enemy for one person…thus making it not public at all, but that’s not the point.)

To wit: when I was in first grade, I came in third for a handful of events at my school’s track and field day — and I was a close third behind two boys whose athletic prowess was already busting at the seams at the tender age of seven — but instead of being happy, I wept bitterly at the end of the day.

My mom couldn’t figure out why I was upset, since a gaggle of third place ribbons seemed pretty darn good. Awesome mom that she is, she pulled me onto her lap, gave me a hug, and gently asked why I was so upset. I distinctly remember saying (between heaving sobs, since I’m a champion of the ugly cry) “Because they’re not good enough! Third place means I lost to two people! Only first place is any good!” She tried valiantly to explain that, actually, they were awesome things that I could be proud of, but I was having none of it.

Yuuuup, that pretty much says it all.

When I was in school, anything other than an A was cause for the kind of mourning generally reserved for abused war orphans or victims of horrific tragedies. If (God forbid!) I got a B, there’d be gnashing of teeth and rending of garments.

Every time I did or produced something that was less than perfect, I took it as a personal failure. I’m not sure where this deeply embedded perfectionism came from, since my parents never once did anything to foster it — but deeply embedded it was, and it turned me into one twitchy, miserable cowgirl for a very long time.

I’d been trying to overcome my perfectionism for ages, but my big breakthrough came over the course of the last year.

The first step in this process came last spring, when I was a particularly unhappy camper: I was deeply unhappy in the career I’ve worked towards my entire adult life, and I felt like a total failure. All that education, all that money, all that hard work: I was wasting it all by wanting to do something else with my life. I felt like an epic failure and a total waste, and I was kicking myself — hard — for my perceived failure.

Image source: sherievenner.com

Around that time, my mom came to my rescue when she dug up a whole series of articles about perfectionism and the importance of seeing perceived failures as opportunities for learning and growth.

One article in particular — “Next Time, Fail Better,” from the Chronicle of Higher Education — hit the nail on the head. When I read this portion, I felt like the author had been hanging out in my head and recording my inner monologue:

Humanities students are not used to failure. They want to get it right the first time. When they are new to the game, they want to get good grades on what are essentially first drafts. Once they learn how much work it is to write and edit a really good essay, their goals shift—from getting A’s on papers written the night before to getting A’s and making the difficult process look effortless. Because it’s embarrassing to have to admit that you had to throw away two drafts before you got to your thesis. They feel silly admitting to spending three days researching a topic that just didn’t pan out. How could they have been so stupid? Surely the other English majors found their topics right away and then turned out beautifully coherent papers.

Yes, yes, and yes. This has been my MO for…like…the entirety of my existence. The author’s end point was spot-on, though: it’s not about failure, it’s about what you learn. Failures don’t mean that all is lost — they mean that you know where to start from next time. Failures build the foundation for future successes.

In a superbly shocking (by which I mean not the least bit surprising) turn of events, I quickly found that this approach makes me feel a whole lot more warm and fuzzy than endlessly berating myself for not being perfect or getting something exactly right on my first try. (You’re stunned, I’m sure.)

mmm! Beautiful! ♥ Another way of sayin.... there are no mistakes, just opportunities for learning and growth!

Mind: blown.

Once I started putting this into practice, I saw a dramatic shift in my perspective. Ok, so I want to do something different than the field for which I went to school. When I was looking at this as a failure, I was stuck — and there I sat, spinning my wheels and stewing in a toxic cocktail of perfectionism and self-inflicted derision.

Once I started seeing it as a learning experience, though, two things happened: first, I stopped treating myself like I was the the poster child for failure. Secondly, I got un-stuck and was able to move forward in figuring out what I do want to do.

By looking at my situation as an opportunity to learn something about myself and to then use what I learned as a sort of GPS for taking my life in a more satisfying direction, I began to feel a lot better.

Image source: bashzone.com

Not surprisingly, this has made a huge difference for me — and it has improved more than one area of my life. Instead of kicking myself when I have a few days in which I can’t seem to get my shiz together, I’ve started looking at it as an opportunity to figure out what I can do differently in the future. Instead of berating myself when I don’t get to the gym as often as I’d like, I started seeing it as an opportunity to learn about how I manage my time and how I might change things up to make life flow a bit better.

And with all that in mind, now I’d like to hear from you!

Are you a perfectionist? If so, do you think this approach to failure and perfectionism would help you feel better and put less pressure on yourself?