I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve been told that making a mistake is good for you but up until now I’ve always questioned whether or not your mistakes can ever really make you happier. You often read about the artist that did something quite by accident that produced astounding results, or the entrepreneur that couldn’t have got to where they are now had it not been for the valuable lessons learnt from their previous mistakes. Yet, despite believing this to be true in the case of others, I am very resistant when it comes to making my own mistakes and often avoid doing something altogether just in case it turns out to be one. Well, not any more. This weekend I learnt that the answer to the question ‘Can your mistakes make you happier?’ is a resounding YES! One serendipitous encounter has given me a much more relaxed attitude to accidents and mistakes.
I was daydreaming in London and accidentally jumped on the wrong tube. I hadn’t noticed so I sat down and began to watch a man in the same carriage who was shuffling playing cards. This wasn’t just normal shuffling – he was incredible. Now normally, as a typical Londoner, I would have politely averted my eyes and quietly appreciated his talent with a sly sidewards glance, but instead I decided to show my appreciation fully with a beaming smile. I couldn’t help it actually, I was so impressed and also so happy to see someone completely engaged and uninhibited. He responded by coming over, saying hello and performing a magic trick for me. Then another and finally a third one which got us both talking to a third person in the carriage. I ended up going four stops before I realised I was going in the wrong direction! In that moment I realised that my mistake had absolutely made me happier – I was actually glad that I had made it. It was no problem that it took me a little longer to get to my destination and, as a result of meeting Angelo, I smiled the whole way there and also had a great story to tell my friends when I finally arrived to meet them. Before we got off the tube Angelo told me about his project, Forward the Smile, and finding out more about this has made me happier still. His personal story is really uplifting and it’s a great project as well. You can watch a video about it here – who knows, maybe my mistake will end up bringing a little bit of extra happiness to you too!