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Tamara Levitt Headshot

Yoda Had One Thing Wrong: It's OK to Try

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So I know Yoda is a Jedi Master and all that, but he's got something wrong. One of his most favourite claims -- "Do, or do not. There is no 'try,'" -- has a big hole in it.

I get his point: Words have power and the word try carries a defeatist attitude. But he's suggesting that if you make enough of an effort to achieve a goal, you should be able to reach that goal. And that if you fail, your effort or conviction was lacking.

That certainly hasn't been my reality. Sometimes I try my best, yet I still experience failure. There are often external factors that are part of the 'success' equation. To conclude we are to be blamed for our failures is to be denying ourselves of the acceptance and self-compassion we all deserve. It's difficult enough for adults to grapple with these issues. Imagine how difficult it is for children.

I want my nieces and nephews to know that if they try to reach a goal, but can't achieve it, that's OK. Regardless of whether they win or lose, they are still amazing; their self-worth is not determined by achievement. By learning to simply enjoy the game as they're playing it, they've already won.

We need to offer children not only the room to fail, but also the support and education to accept and grow from it. I believe that so much, I decided to write a book about it. Happiness Doesn't Come from Headstands is a modern day story about the search for happiness, and one girl's discovery that even in the face of failure, peace can be found.


The messages we learn as children are ones that become core beliefs as adults. Growing up, I learned that "try" was a bad word -- there was either success or failure. I developed a fear of failure that was so strong, at times, I simply wouldn't try. Because of this, "regret" is a word I'm all too familiar with.

Today, I do my best to approach "trying" with enthusiasm even when faced with fear. And if I fail, I strive to congratulate myself on my efforts -- a difficult thing to do in a world that rewards us for our victories alone.

I'd like children to grow up in a kinder world, one in which we celebrate their efforts, not just the outcome. I believe children (and adults) should be praised and congratulated when we try irrespective of the outcome and even when we do succeed.

As parents and educators, we have the power to nurture children's growth. We can start by teaching kids that it's okay to fail -- that just because they have a failure, it doesn't mean that they are a failure. By learning how to accept and learn from failure, they'll be better equipped to achieve the happiness and success we so want for them in the first place.

My sense has always been that if I had known some of what I know now, at a younger age, life could have been easier. Perhaps I would have been a little less afraid to fail, and a little more resilient when I did. Our thought patterns strengthen as we age, so let's support children to create a healthy framework from the start. This was my goal in creating Happiness Doesn't Come from Headstands.

Listen we all love Yoda. He's cute, green, and 900 years old -- what's not to like? But wise as he may be, Yoda was wrong on this one. There is a try. And whether it results in a victory or defeat, each act of trying should be celebrated.

That children will be loved regardless of what they can or cannot do is a message I want my nieces and nephews to know, one that I want your kids and your friends' kids to know. My hope is to inspire you as you inspire the children in your life.

To support (or view) the Happiness Doesn't Come from Headstands campaign please click here! "