Why Failing At Something Is Actually Good For Your Brain

Failure is an unavoidable fact of life. Whatever way you try to avoid it, you’ll always experience the feeling of not succeeding in something, whether that’s a lower grade than you expected on a test, not landing a job interview or another disappointment. It’s in human nature to fail, and it sure doesn’t feel great.

But as much as failure sucks, it can be a beneficial experience. Learning from your mistakes can help you avoid failure in the future, and can teach you lessons about life that you would have otherwise missed. No matter how much it hurts, failing at something can teach you a lot and make the next success feel that much better.

As life and success coach Alice Dartnell summarizes on her website, “the world is full of second chances and opportunities,” so don’t let a fear of failure make you avoid certain opportunities that could change your life for the better.

On top of that, failure can actually be super beneficial for your brain, too.

Failure gives your brain the opportunity to grow and develop as you learn from your mistakes

While the experience of failure can promote feelings of anxiety, depression, and stress (via Heartmanity’s Blog), it can also trigger your brain to grow as you take into account what went wrong. According Reader’s Digest Canada, research conducted by Stanford University psychologist Carol Dweck found that once failure has occurred, the brain has the possibility to enter “a more focused mental state” as they learn from what happened, encouraging mental growth and development.

But this all depends on the sort of mindset you have. During Dweck’s research, she found that those with a growth mindset would be more likely to enter a focused mental state than those with fixed mindsets. In her book “Mindset: The New Psychology of Success” (via Brain Pickings), Dweck describes a growth mindset as one that thrives on challenges and failures, while a fixed mindset sees things like character, intelligence, and creativity as something that can’t be changed.

A way to combat a fixed mindset is to “get used to the feeling of succeeding, rather than the experience of failure,” as the Institute for Educational Advancement (IEA) notes. “Since your goal is to rewire your brain’s expectations that your efforts will yield progress, even through increasing challenge, you need to really want the goal,” Neurologist Judy Willis, MD, told the IEA. She recommends to “select a gaol that you would enjoy en route and at the finish.”

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