“I Love You” collage by Lani, textures by FlyPaper.

This one was SUPER fun. I was listening to a YouTube video lecture by Professor Ellen Langer, Department of Psychology, Harvard University, on Mindfulness. She’s considered the “mother of mindfulness” and has been studying mindfulness as well as mindlessness since the ’70’s. In this particular talk she described the benefits to creative efforts of making mistakes. Yes, making mistakes are GOOD! Wow, how freeing is that thought!

Her premise is that we mindlessly follow rules and routines because we are afraid of making mistakes. She set up a research design with three groups of creative people working on essays or art. One group was just working away on their essays or art. The other two groups were deliberately misled about a directive so that they all created mistakes. One of these groups were told that’s alright, we all make mistakes, just move on. The other group was told to find a way to incorporate their mistake in their final work.

As you might imagine, when all the creative efforts were finished, the drawings and essays with the mistake incorporated into them were much better actually, than even those that had no “mistake” AND the group had a lot more fun. They were kind of forced to be mindful. A mistake is a cue to wake up and be present, to take advantage of opportunities which you might not notice if you were mindlessly following rules and routines. Also, mistakes can make your final product more interesting.

So yes, mistakes are GOOD! They wake us up and when we are awake we can be happy!



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