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Feels So Good To Be Bad

Being bad at things may not be so bad after all. Today, we give you the case for why it’s okay to drop the ambition and let yourself be bad at things. The feeling of always needing to be ‘good’ can be the thing that stops you from ever getting to that point. That’s a head-scratcher.

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First-Time Enchiladas Never Go Well
If you say 'fold in' one more time

We don’t like doing things we’re bad at. If we’re bad at running, we don’t want to run. If we’re bad at stretching, we don’t want to stretch. It’s human nature. But, you have to be bad at something before you’re good at it. Hot take!

A well-summarized passage by Christine Carter, a sociologist and Senior Fellow at UC Berkeley’s Greater Good Science Center: I’ve dropped habits I like when I feel like I’m not doing them well, and I keep doing things I don’t love because I am, technically, successful. Now, as I work to untangle my identity from my skills, I’m shedding many years’ worth of misguided ideas I’ve held about myself. Flip that on its head, and we arrive at the things we’re “bad” at. Shouldn’t we remove the same self-judgment when it comes to our “shortcomings” as well? If we’re not defined by what we’re “good” at, then we’re certainly not defined by what we’re “bad” at.

Slow Cooking in Discomfort

Stop avoiding things you don’t excel at. For example, I can’t cook so I don’t. Turn that into, I don’t know how to cook because I’ve never put effort into it, but I’ll start to cook more. It’s a willingness to embrace the discomfort. If you only do things you excel in, won’t you also lose the gratifying feeling of progression?

Friend of the Devil

We may all have become a little too friendly with the devils in our head, telling us we suck, telling us we can’t get through this. Well, that inner monologue is a b****. Just admit to how bad you are, and those voices in your head will lose all their power. Pro tip: while doing your small, unambitious habits, try singing some David Guetta lyrics to get you through it. Why does it feel soooooo good…so good to be bad! Lightens the mood.

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Aiming for Amour

Heart Target

As useful as the self-help, self-improvement movement is, it does have a caveat. Do we always need to be moving forward? Do we need to be eternally improving? What about doing things for the sheer pleasure of them in the moment? Our enjoyment level shouldn’t plunge immediately after realizing our Downward Dog isn’t as good as our neighbour’s. Of course, comparing yourself to others has its positive purposes: direction, a goal towards excellence, motivation to persist, etc. But, if we eliminate any expectation of results and pursue pleasure for its own sake, wouldn’t that be enough of a reason to do something?

If you let yourself be bad at something, that is, drop the anxiety that you aren’t immediately improving, perhaps you will access that gratifying feeling associated with future progression. No one’s born knowing how to do a headstand. Next time Adriene demo’s the seemingly impossible crow pose, give it a go. It’ll suck, but do it anyway.

In Margaret Talbot’s article, “Is It Really Too Late to Learn New Skills?, she says, “the joysand occasional embarrassmentsof being a novice could be an antidote to the strain of being a perfectionist.”

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Why Do We Hate Doing Things We’re Bad At?

The fear. What if you’re bad at something that you know you should be good at? But then again, who’s watching? In a time like today, we all have the opportunity to learn new things in the comfort of our own home.

Dilettanism: a person who cultivates an area of interest without any knowledge; an amateur.

After googling that definition, we found this other Talbot passage to be pretty profound: “But if you think of dilettantism as an endorsement of learning for learning’s sakenot for remuneration or career advancement but merely because it delights the mindwhat’s not to love?” Who knows, you may find some intrinsic pleasure in things you are mediocre at.

Some final insight by psychologist Aimee Daramus: “None of us are good at everything, so if you want to really love and respect yourself, you have to be comfortable being bad at some things.”

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Let’s try something different. Abandon your goals for a minute, stop trying to be an athlete, a buddha or a world-renowned baker. Just be an amateur, for a short period of time. Spoiler alert: you won’t remain an amateur. Mediocrity every day will eventually turn into proficiency.

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Let yourself be mediocre at whatever you are trying to do, but be mediocre every day.

Christine Carter

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For those who want more:

Something to read: “Is It Really Too Late to Learn New Skills?by Margaret Talbot

Something to watch: Christine Carter’s TED talk, “Confessions of a Bad Exerciser

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SEE YOU NEXT WEEK.
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