Laugh at life's bloopers

Mistakes necessary for personal growth

When I'm watching a movie with my kids, we won't leave the theatre before the credits are done because some of the best scenes can be at the end.

Bloopers are now so popular that they're even inserted at the end of cartoons like Monsters, Inc. and the Toy Story movies.

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They offer a release from the altered reality of movies. On film, all is not only bigger and better than life but cleaner, neater and prettier. The average actor is a lot better looking than the average people we see in the mirror and on the streets.

In movies and television, teeth are unnaturally white, faces more symmetric and perfect. Even if characters burp or pass gas (usually for a laugh), we won't smell anything (other than popcorn and the real people sitting around you).

Returning to real life can be a let down. The bloopers remind us that the movie we just saw was a work of fiction and the actors themselves are imperfect and fallible just like us. They flub their lines, trip themselves up and laugh uncontrollably.

Still in real life, most of us want to show our best selves to others and shy away from bragging about our blunders. At the end of our lives, we expect a solemn respectful service where our loved ones remember the good things we did. Thinking about this can inform our lives today as we strive to live as we wish to be remembered.

But making mistakes and being imperfect makes us human like everyone else. And the mistakes we make are a necessary part of learning and growing. I hope I will never be so old as to be afraid to try new things, make new mistakes and learn from them.

If your life was a movie, would you play your bloopers at the end? Maybe not if it was a major blooper. That could bring more tears than laughter.

Laughing with others at our own mistakes can be therapeutic. We must first acknowledge our responsibility for our decisions and actions. When we make a mistake with the potential to harm others-even when it is not intentional, we must accept our personal responsibility.

In fact, this is part of the new culture of disclosure in health care. In the course of a patient's care, should health care providers make a mistake, such as giving the wrong dose of a medication -even if it does not result in harm to that patient, they are ethically obliged to disclose the error to the patient.

This transparency is essential for improvements in safety in health care. We can learn from these mistakes and take steps to reduce future errors.

Of course medical mistakes are seldom funny, and no one laughs at these bloopers.

Laughing at ourselves when we do silly things can relieve the pressure of trying to look perfect. If we take ourselves too seriously and worry too much about looking good to everyone else, we may set unrealistic standards and cause ourselves more stress.

Fear of falling or looking foolish can hold us back from trying new things, meeting new people, learning and growing. Maybe we should all let our loved ones know which bloopers they may share at our memorial services. We could start a new trend that would reduce blooperphobia in the living, reminding everyone that it's OK to make mistakes as long as we can learn and laugh.

What would you do today if you were not afraid of failing or looking foolish?

Dr. Davidicus Wong is a family physician and writer. His column appears regularly in this paper. Read more about achieving your positive potential at davidicuswong.wordpress.com.

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