My son coined an amazing new word this weekend - wow-oops. He said it so naturally. He said it like he’s been saying it since he first started talking. He kicked a ball trying to hit something and it missed, setting off a string of really interesting and funny collisions in the living room. He sat there and watched in awe, so amazed at what his missed kick had caused. In his eyes, it was no longer a mistake. It was no longer something negative. It was a wow-oops.
That mistake enabled happiness. Let’s think about that.
When life doesn’t go as we think it should, we often focus on the negative. We see the mistake, the oops. I think when life doesn’t go the way we think it should, it really means that there’s another way to get to where we’re going. There’s a hidden wow in that oops.
We should be going “oops that didn’t work, but wow look at this other opportunity over here.” We should be framing these situations that we would normally see as negative as an opportunity. These are “wow, I didn’t even think about this; how amazing is that?” moments.
It really is the mindset of flipping the negative to a positive.
It is that optimism that enables happiness.
But it’s more. What I love so much about wow-oops is that it starts with the positive. He saw the positive outcome first. A situation did not go as planned, and he looked at what that actually caused as opposed to focusing on the shortcoming first. Wow-oops.
So how do we do this?
Reframe the oops. When something doesn’t go as planned, look for the wow potential. Let’s say you were planning to take your kids to the park and then all the sudden, it’s raining. Wow-oops! Now you can go dancing in the rain! Or now you have time to do that that art project you’ve been wanting to try out! Or all these other amazing wow moments are enabled because of the oops.
You are the wow. My favorite example of wow-oops happens when I start an art project. I like making things with my hands and I think the reason I like it enables these wonderful wow-oops moments. When we set out to make art, probably trying to mimic something you’ve seen somewhere else. I usually see something on Pinterest and think, “Yes! I can do that!” But pretty much no matter what I’m trying to do, it’s never going to come out exactly as planned. That’s not and oops, but the wow. It’s the wow because I never would have made what I did without failing at what they did. That creation is now my voice coming through. The oops is what makes it authentically me and makes my voice a part of the art. Wow-oops.
Let go of perfectionism. My family loves cooking. We’re not necessarily good at it, but it makes us happy. My husband is a baker and he loves try new bread recipes and we both take turns making dinner. We like to try new dishes and flavors all the time to expose our kids to new things. Whether they actually eat it is a different story. My husband actually gets pretty frustrated when a recipe doesn’t go as planned. If he makes a mistake baking, the result is a failure no matter what. My kids and I can be happily scarfing down the entire loaf, and he sees the oops. We see the wow and he sees the oops. Wow-oops lives in imperfection. It’s the surprise we weren’t expecting, the happy we didn’t see coming.