"We don't make mistakes, we have happy accidents."
That's perhaps one of the more famous quotes from the late, great Bob Ross -- a cult figure that many of us fondly remember as a source of creativity, calm, and unwavering positivity. For 11 years, his show 'The Joy of Painting' aired on PBS, helping people find happiness with a little bit of paint and a blank canvas.
He taught us about art and love and discovery through his pure joy of painting, but as a kid who grew up watching his show, what always struck me was the fact that you didn't have to be perfect -- just happy with what you'd created. It was about expressing yourself and using your imagination, and if you made a mistake it wasn't a "mistake," you had a "happy accident." This type of thinking helped me learn to be patient, appreciate the experience over the result, and just go with the flow.
As adults, I think we tend to lose our patience for mistakes as we get caught up in the hustle. We quest for perfection when we know darn well it doesn't exist. This can quickly turn fun projects into daunting tasks -- difficult to start, harder to finish. The smallest of errors become frustrating in the face of our own high expectations. But whatever the mishap may be, it's important to remember that it's all just part of the learning process. Life goes on and it's full of mistakes, big and small. The key is to take them in stride.
At the very least, we can learn something from our mistakes, but at their most profound moments, they can lead to something else altogether -- be it a new discovery or a new perspective. After all, without some of the big "whoops" throughout history we wouldn't have amazing things like x-rays, penicillin, or chocolate chip cookies. (And just think how much less impressive the plain old Tower of Pisa would be.)
To have accidents is to be human, and to be human is to be flawed. You can choose to fight it, or you can choose to face life like Bob Ross, with a big smile and a bigger heart.
"The secret to doing anything is believing that you can do it. Anything that you believe you can do strong enough, you can do. Anything. As long as you believe." ~ Bob Ross