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Day 61: The bag of 1000 beads

December 14, 2023

“You have to have the courage to be rubbish” – Greg McKeown author of “Effortless

I’ve lost track of how many things I’ve tried to get good at in my life. Ballet. Horseriding. Sewing. Knitting. Painting. Rollerskating. Hockey…honestly, the list is looooooooong!

I am not good at any of those things – largely because I couldn’t tolerate not being good at them for long enough to get good at them.

Today I listened to a book called “Effortless” by Greg McKeown, where he shared the analogy of “The bag of a 1000 beads”, which goes like this…

Once there was a man who wanted to learn a new language but he felt embarrassed and put off by the idea of making mistakes so he couldn’t bring himself to practice.

One day his teacher said to him, “Imagine you have a bag with 1000 beads in it. Every time you make a mistake, you take 1 bead out of the bag. When the bag is empty will you reach the first level of mastery.”

The bag of 1000 beads is our encouragement to embrace our mistakes – to count them as valid and valuable contributors to our growth, achievements and success in whatever we’re pursuing.

What does this have to do with Joy?

Over the last few days I’ve written about how I take myself too seriously and how this leads me away from joy – and even makes my desire to live more joyfully feel heavy and sometimes devoid of joy.

This analogy feels like a wonderful one to carry with me in everything I do. How much lighter does it make the failures, setbacks and mistakes?

I’ve already learned that joy is accompanied by a certain lightness so anything that reduces the weight of things I previously carried heavily will likely serve me well.

Today, I’m putting the bag of 1000 beads onto my gratitude board. I love this idea and will remind myself of it each day when I look at my board.

Has the bag of 1000 beads encouraged you to think differently about something you’d like to practice?

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