Focus not on the pain of failing – focus on the pleasure of learning

When we fail in something important for us, we naturally feel disheartened. If we don’t process this feeling intelligently, we may quit.

Failure is an event that happens to us, often because of factors beyond our control. However, failing or quitting is a choice that we make. How can we ensure that failure doesn’t make us quit? By shifting our focus to learning from the failure. We can introspect, “What went wrong? What could I have done better? What can I carry with me from this experience?”

To aid in such change of focus, we can re-envision failure and success. When we see failure and success as if they are opposite, failure disheartens us. But if we see them as existing on the same path, with success awaiting those who move forward from failure by learning, we get the inspiration to persevere. And we find that we can learn a lot from failure, sometimes much more than what we learn from success.

Gita wisdom aids in such a re-envisioning. Its central recommendation of bhakti-yoga is not about events such as failures or successes – it is about a relationship between us and Krishna. Through any event, if we learn how to serve Krishna better, then we grow in that relationship, even if the desired result hasn’t worked out. And as connecting with him is deeply strengthening and satisfying, we stop catastrophizing failure. Seeing both success and failure as landmarks on our life-journey, we keep moving through both towards Krishna, finding deep fulfillment therein. The Bhagavad-gita (05.20) states that those who are spiritually situated stay equipoised amidst both pleasure and pain.

By thus focusing on learning how to move closer to Krishna through both failure and success, we can stay steadily situated in sublime, spiritual serenity.

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