Allow error into your life and experience the joy of surprise

Allow error into your life and experience the joy of surprise

One of the most powerful strategies for enjoying more happiness, and living a better life, is the acceptance of imperfection.

We’re all imperfect, yet so many of us find it so difficult to accept this; so we become upset, way too frequently, when we make mistakes or when we fail at something.

Allowing failure and accepting faults, however, can massively reduce distress and free up space and energy for more positivity.

Check out this great article by Leyla Loued-Khenissi via Psyche ….

Do you remember colouring as a child, striving to stay within the lines, then feeling frustration, disappointment, maybe even shame, when you made a mistake and your strokes smeared across the borders? From a young age, we encounter error and the unpleasant feelings that it brings. We learn that what we expect or attempt and what we get are not always the same, and so we try to bring the two closer together. We see this in the stumbles and the falls that precede walking. Later, in school, errors carry a more formal penalty, red scars criss-crossing worksheets and essays, telling us to change something, because our prediction of what was expected does not match reality.

Moments of life such as these, strung along the thread of our timeline, teach us to change our thinking, our expectations, to align with the world out there. Less often and usually with less success, we might change the world to meet our expectations. Either way, from all this arises the prevailing view that mismatch and error are a bad thing, a crack in the sidewalk to avoid stepping on. But error inherently carries surprise with it, which can be good as well as bad. At the extreme, consider an unexpected pregnancy and what it might bring. This agnostic feature of surprise is why I say we should reconsider error as a potential source of joy, not merely an undesired outcome.

Uncertainty, error, difference, surprise – you might view these words as conceptually distinct, but in computational frameworks they are bound together. One cannot think about uncertainty without invoking probability. If you know the probability of an event, you can compute its associated uncertainty (its variance, or entropy). When the outcome is revealed, you can compute its associated surprise based on the probability of its occurrence. In brief, the more unlikely an event, the more surprised you will be should it happen. It follows that error is simply the difference between what we expect and what is true, which is what evokes surprise.

Consider making a decision about a takeout meal this evening, between burgers and pizza, using a coin toss. Either outcome, heads or tails, is equally likely and therefore not especially surprising. Now consider using a nifty six-sided die to select between six takeout options. Any one side will result in more surprise than if you were deciding between two options alone, because your expectation of any one outcome was lower to begin with (a 1/6 chance of occurring rather than 1/2 with the coin). What has happened between the coin and die tosses? You have increased the range of possible outcomes; in computational terms, you have increased your entropy, and thereby the initial uncertainty, and your eventual surprise…

… keep reading the full & original article HERE