1. It could always be worse.
It’s a simple *clarificatory comparison. If you are familiar with the entity y (a wide range of your own personal failures, say), then we introduce x (any minute instance of a failure not occurring), by comparison with y, we generate a greater appreciation of x.
*Also known as the It Feels Wonderful When I Stop Punching Myself in the Kidneys Effect.
2. Expectations are lowered.
If you’ve skated through life with no hiccups or federal indictments, people expect nothing less from you, whereas if you’ve lost one measly pontoon boat or tripped over a power cord at your cousin’s wedding and unplugged the sound system in the middle of the groom’s father’s speech moments before he had a massive heart attack (from which he recovered completely so it wasn’t really that big of a deal) people hold you to a greatly reduced standard that is imminently easier to live with.
3. Say hello to my little friend, Humility.
Instead of Tiffany blue being your color, you’re now wearing suck-it beige, and the funny thing is, humility is not a bad shade. Sadly, most people are missing that Crayola.
Unless you’ve been taken down a few pegs in life, what you feel when you feel badly about someone else’s misfortune, is called pity. I have no trouble hosting my own black-tie woe-is-me bash, but when someone gives me pity eye I just want to smack them. Conversely, when their expression says “I feel you. I’ve been in your shoes myself,” I like them, and I put my hands back in my pockets.
4. People will feed you.
Do you know someone who has never endured a bad hair, work, relationship or fat pants day? No matter how much you truly love that person there are times you wish they’d slip on a banana peel and face-plant into a little bad luck.
On those occasions when you are less than perfect, celebrate your failure. Lift your chin and buy a pair of shoes because your friends—the ones who love you most—will be delighted. They’ll rally ‘round with cocktails, a shoulder to cry on, and a classic tuna casserole.
(Nobody feeds you when everything’s going your way.) Unless you are a TV commercials director. (See below)
5. You learn who your friends are.
When I first came to L.A. I was a TV commercials director. I was in a position to yay or nay the hiring of a large group of people such as actors, cinematographers, hair and make-up stylists, etc. Having this job apparently made me “successful,” because I had more friends than Taylor Swift, and they all wanted to buy me dinner and Blu Ray players.
After a few years I decided to stop making commercials, and pursue writing full-time. Having this new position apparently made me a “failure,” because I couldn’t get the guy whose job it was to put schmear on my bagels to return my calls. My real friends baked a nice tuna dish.
6. You’re still in the fight.
If everything were harp music and roses we’d be dead. Failure makes us get up, dust ourselves off, and come out swinging. We may be liable for restitution and medical expenses, but failure makes us winners, dammit.