4 reasons to embrace your mistakes, as told by a 'wrongologist.'

What if being wrong is actually kind of right?

If you're like me, you probably spend a good chunk of time trying not to be wrong.

We try to ace every test in school, we attempt to answer our boss' questions correctly in the workplace, we aggressively follow the directions on that difficult Pinterest recipe ... we even try to say the things our partners want to hear after they've had a bad day.

Most of us try to avoid being wrong at all costs.


But what if being wrong is actually really good for us?

Kathryn Schulz is a writer for The New Yorker and a self-proclaimed "wrongologist." She spent five years studying what it feels like to be wrong, and now she has some theories about what being wrong can tell us about being human.

The best thing about studying wrongness for five years? "No job competition," Kathryn joked in a recent TED Talk.

According to Kathryn, when we try to be right all the time, it might mean that we're doing it ... well ... all wrong. Here are four of her most surprising findings:

1. We don't actually hate being wrong. We hate realizing that we're wrong.

You've seen the cartoon where Wile E. Coyote chases the Road Runner off the cliff, right? We laugh hardest when Wile E. just keeps running, ignorant of the basic laws of gravity — that is, until he looks down and realizes that he's midair. That's when he falls. That first moment, when he's hanging there? That's called "error blindness."

"Error blindness" means you're wrong but still totally happy. (Ignorance is bliss, right?)

Kathryn explains that being wrong itself isn't what makes us feel terrible. Instead, it's what we tell ourselves when we look down and realize we're wrong. We assume all kinds of bad things about ourselves in that moment, which sends us into a spiral of angst, frustration, and bad feelings.

2. We're taught that being wrong = failure.

Those angst-causing assumptions usually come from cultural misunderstandings about being wrong.

Think about seeing red marks all over your childhood math tests. We're taught from a young age that those red marks — and being wrong — won't lead to success. It's shameful. It's painful. It means we're bad people.

"By the time you're 9 years old, you've already learned that people who get stuff wrong are lazy irresponsible dimwits," Kathryn says, "and that the way to succeed in life is to never make any mistakes." Image via Thinkstock.

The worst part of this is that we identify being wrong as having something wrong with us personally, and that's not helping anyone. We're wrong a lot more often than we're right, so embracing wrongness as a learning opportunity would be a more positive approach.

3. Assuming we're right isn't always very good, either.

It's actually pretty tough to know whether you're right or wrong. Of course you think you made the right choice — that's why you picked it! But our attachment to assuming our own correctness can hurt us.

Why? Because when we assume we're right, we assume that people who disagree with us are wrong. Or we assume they're ignorant, or idiots. And if they're actually smart? Then we assume they're acting maliciously.

This leads nowhere fast, pitting people against each other instead of working together to find solutions. Embracing our imperfections makes for a kinder world all around.

4. Maybe being wrong is actually the only thing we can count on as humans.

According to Kathryn, there is only one thing we can actually expect out of life, and it's this: When we imagine one thing for ourselves, something else usually happens instead.

Without wrongness, the story of humanity has no climax, no intrigue, no surprise — it doesn't work. (Think about every story you love, and then imagine it without a few mistakes. See, not as good!)

Being wrong isn't an embarrassing defect. It's fundamental to who we are.

Looking at it this way makes being wrong seem (a little bit) smarter than being right.

Kathryn says that when we're obsessed with our rightness, we put up walls between ourselves and the world — and her mission is to "normalize" being wrong. What if instead we embraced wrongness as the thing that most helps us connect with the people around us?

Listen to her whole TED Talk to learn more about her research.

"It is possible to step outside of that feeling" of being wrong, Kathryn says. "And if you can do so, it's the single greatest moral, intellectual, and creative leap you can make."

On that note: I'm making a pact to embrace my mistakes more lightly. Who's joining me?

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Women around the world are constantly bombarded by traditional and outdated societal expectations when it comes to how they live their lives: meet a man, get married, buy a home, have kids.

Many of these pressures often come from within their own families and friend circles, which can be a source of tension and disconnect in their lives.

Global skincare brand SK-II created a new campaign exploring these expectations from the perspective of four women in four different countries whose timelines vary dramatically from what their mothers, grandmothers, or close friends envision for them.

SK-II had Katie Couric meet with these women and their loved ones to discuss the evolving and controversial topic of marriage pressure and societal expectations.

SK-II

"What happens when dreams clash with expectations? We're all supposed to hit certain milestones: a degree, marriage, a family," Couric said before diving into conversation with the "young women who are defining their own lives while navigating the expectations of the ones who love them most."

Maluca, a musician in New York, explains that she comes from an immigrant family, which comes with the expectation that she should live the "American Dream."

"You come here, go to school, you get married, buy a house, have kids," she said.

Her mother, who herself achieved the "American Dream" with hard work and dedication when she came to the United States, wants to see her daughter living a stable life.

"I'd love for her to be married and I'd love her to have a big wedding," she said.

Chun Xia, an award-winning Chinese actress who's outspoken about empowering other young women in China, said people question her marital status regularly.

"I'm always asked, 'Don't you want to get married? Don't you want to start a family and have kids like you should at your age?' But the truth is I really don't want to at this point. I am not ready yet," she said.

In South Korea, Nara, a queer-identifying artist, believes her generation should have a choice in everything they do, but her mother has a different plan in mind.

SK-II

"I just thought she would have a job and meet a man to get married in her early 30s," Nara's mom said.

But Nara hopes she can one day marry her girlfriend, even though it's currently illegal in her country.

Her mother, however, still envisions a different life for her daughter. "Deep in my heart, I hope she will change her mind one day," she said.

Maina, a 27-year-old Japanese woman, explains that in her home country, those who aren't married by the time they're 25 to 30, are often referred to as "unsold goods."

Her mom is worried about her daughter not being able to find a boyfriend because she isn't "conventional."

"I really want her to find the right man and get married, to be seen as marriage material," she said.

After interviewing the women and their families, Couric helped them explore a visual representation of their timelines, which showcased the paths each woman sees her life going in contrast with what her relatives envision.

SK-II

"For each young woman, two timelines were created. One represents the expectations. The other, their aspirations," Couric explained. "There's often a disconnect between dreams and expectations. But could seeing the difference lead to greater understanding?"

The women all explored their timelines, which included milestones like having "cute babies," going back to school, not being limited by age, and pursuing dreams.

By seeing their differences side-by-side, the women and their families were able to partake in more open dialogue regarding the expectations they each held.

One of the women's mom's realized her daughter was lucky to be born during a time when she has the freedom to make non-traditional choices.

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"It looks like she was born in the right time to be free and confident in what she wants to do," she said.

"There's a new generation of women writing their own rules, saying, 'we want to do things our way,' and that can be hard," Couric explained.

The video ends with the tagline: "Forge your own path and choose the life you want; Draw your own timeline."

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