One constant in life is change: the seasons will change, our jobs will change, our relationships will change, and our circumstances will change. If we know change is inevitable, then why do we get so bent out of shape when it happens?

One reason change bothers us is that we hold on to our past mistakes. Instead of focusing on what is going well, we focus on what isn't working in our lives or what's gone wrong in our past. We need to realize that holding on to past failures and letting our mistakes get the best of us can actually hold us back from reaching our full potential.

On the path to happiness and making your dreams come true, it is important to reframe your view of mistakes. Mistakes aren’t always bad, and learning how to make the most of them can help you feel more positive.

Reframing your view of mistakes is easier than you may think. These five steps can help.

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1. There are no mistakes, only lessons.

Every mistake we make in life is an opportunity to grow and learn. If you look at life as a giant classroom, mistakes are the assignments that lead to learning opportunities. Through your mistakes you learn what you value, what you like, what you don't want, and what you don't need. Mistakes are the fertile ground from which new opportunities grow.

2. We grow through our mistakes.

Although mistakes can feel painful and frustrating, they can help us grow. Mistakes are only truly harmful if we keep repeating them. If you look at each situation and ask, "What can I learn here?" you'll grow and learn so you can take additional steps on your road to happiness.

3. Your mistakes do not define you.

The World Health Organization estimates that about 350 million people worldwide have some form of depression; much of the depression is tied to regrets and mistakes. Recognize that your mistakes do not represent all of who you are, nor do they define you as a person. You're much more than your situation, your problems or your past mistakes.

4. The biggest mistake you can make is being afraid to make one.

One of the most common things that holds people back is being afraid to act or move toward their dream because of a fear of failure. Ask yourself if you're procrastinating, making excuses, or waiting to act on your goals. Perhaps a key part of your underlying fear is worrying that you'll make a mistake. Remember that mistakes are proof that you're trying, and that without mistakes you're not growing. Enjoy the journey — including the trials and tribulations. 

5. Mistakes lead to breakthroughs.

Before Thomas Edison invented the light bulb, a journalist asked him if he felt like a failure. He said, “I have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work.” Looking at mistakes as failures will prevent you from reaching your goals. If you find you keep making mistakes, recognize that you're closer than you think to a breakthrough. Whether you're inventing something, changing jobs or careers, or looking to change your relationship patterns, mistakes will lead to breakthroughs. The more mistakes you make, the bigger the breakthrough that awaits you.

Now that's something to smile about.


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