How To Fail Book Summary By Elizabeth Day

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In How to Fail (2019), Elizabeth Day offers readers an insightful and down-to-earth look at the positive benefits that arise from coping with difficult situations.

She recounts a number of stories throughout the book in which she's faced failures, yet even still, is grateful for those outcomes due to some lesson or experience she took away.

The book serves as a reminder that failure is often unavoidable, but it isn’t something to necessarily be feared because of the life lessons that can come with it.

This book encourages readers to open up to failure and use it as a source of growth, making them smarter and better equipped for life.

How To Fail Book

Book Name: How to Fail (Everything I’ve Ever Learned From Things Going Wrong)

Author(s): Elizabeth Day

Rating: 3.9/5

Reading Time: 21 Minutes

Categories: Book Summaries

Author Bio

Elizabeth Day is a highly acclaimed author who has earned her fame and success.

Having been a staff writer at the Observer and subsequently writing for the Telegraph, The Times and Harper’s Bazaar, Elizabeth's journalism career is impressive.

She has also attracted attention with her novels -Scissors, Paper, Stone (2012), Home Fires (2013), The Party (2017)- thus taking her storytelling to greater heights.

Adding to her life's work is the popular interview podcast How to Fail With Elizabeth Day which continues to captivate audiences across the world.

We can only presume that the incredible knowledge Elizabeth shares with each episode comes from the many accomplishments in her career!

Why Failing Can Be The Best Option: Lessons From Elizabeth Day’s “How To Fail” Podcast

Elizabeth Day's

It’s easy to think that life will be ruined if you make a mistake or fail at something.

But what many don’t realize is that sometimes mistakes are actually learning opportunities in disguise.

With Elizabeth Day’s book, How to Fail, she looks back at her own life to demonstrate this point and even interviews other people on her popular podcast.

She has found that when things do not go according to plan, it gives us the opportunity to learn something valuable – it can help reveal who we are and show us how we can lead a better life.

For example, someone may have panicked over losing their job, only to find a much better job they wouldn’t have looked for otherwise.

Or maybe your failed exam was actually the wake-up call you needed in order to take another approach and pass the next time around.

No matter what mistake or failure you’re dealing with right now, try and start seeing it for the learning opportunity it really is.

Don’t be too hard on yourself and focus on all of the positives that could come from the experience instead!

From Bullying To Resilience: How Being Never Fitting In Can Lead To Success

When Elizabeth Day moved from England to Northern Ireland at an early age, she found it next to impossible to fit in with her peers.

In Northern Ireland during the eighties, English-ness was seen as the “hated occupier” and her accent meant that she was despised by her fellow students.

Day longed to just fit in and even tried to talk as little as possible but it was an impossibility for her.

This didn’t stop her though – instead this failed attempt at fitting in taught her a very important lesson: resilience.

This resilience showed itself again when Day’s skill of observing human behaviour helped land her a job as a journalist.

It wasn’t only Elizabeth who benefited from the tough times she faced in school either – England’s actress Christina Hendricks and Guyana-born political campaigner Gina Miller also learned how to be resilient due to situations they faced while at school which ended up helping them immensely in their future careers.

Hendricks responded differently than Elizabeth, having adopted a new persona of dressing all in black with Doc Martens boots in order protect herself against bullies whereas Miller developed deep determination and goodwill which took away much of the power that bullies held over her.

Both Elizabeth Day, Christina Hendricks and Gina Miller learned valuable skills from failing to fit in that followed them into adulthood and have achieved amazing successes because of it!

Failing can lead us down unexpected paths, teaching us how to be resilient and prepare us for the future if we just look for the lessons within those failures.

In Their Twenties, People Realize The Benefits Of Failing And Taking Time To Figure Out What They Really Want

Failing tests can really teach you a lot – it’s not just about getting the right answer.

Day learned this when she failed her first driving test due to a small mistake in shifting gear, and she was much more confident for the second test because she felt like she had nothing to lose.

The result? She not only aced that second test but also realized that it was all up to the instructor’s opinion what was good enough on any given day.

Other people have echoed similar lessons from failed assessments, such as best-selling author and journalist Dolly Alderton who says that not getting into University of Bristol deflated her sense of entitlement.

Similarly, author David Nicholls speaks about how a person’s twenties are often full of failures but it’s perfectly fine since this is the perfect time for trying things out, failing and doing something else.

Day herself learned this through her twenties – of rushing into ‘the perfect job’ instead of reflecting on what it was she truly desired in life.

The twenty somethings should definitely recognize that failing tests and making mistakes during this phase can teach us a great deal, while still figuring out what we genuinely want in our lives.

How Failed Relationships Can Help Us Find Our Voice And What We Want In Life

Failed Relationships

When Emma Day reviewed her past relationships, she saw that she was failing at them, despite telling herself that she was strong.

She was doing the majority of the shopping, cooking, and cleaning while also maintaining a full-time job.

This had taken a toll on her own sense of self-worth.

In order to gain clarity and new perspectives without the stresses of her failed marriage, Day left London for a three month stay in Los Angeles.

It was through this distance that she learned how desperate she had been to complete herself through other people in all of her past relationships.

Before moving forward, Day found gratitude for each failed relationship as it helped her understand who she was and what it would take for her to be fulfilled in life.

When she finally entered back into the dating pool with unknowns such as online dating sites, it took some getting used to but gave her an opportunity to reconcile with her tendency to prioritize others above herself.

Meanwhile, dates that were less than perfect were actually useful for finding out what one does or does not want from a partner.

In conclusion, failed relationships and inadequate dates can make us feel like we want to give up but Emma Day showed us why it’s important to stay open minded and positive despite heartbreak if you want knowledge about yourself.

What appears like failure can really be progress towards knowing yourself better: something well worth enduring!

Living Like Gwyneth Paltrow: A Glimpse Into The Unrealistic Expectations Of Being A Celebrity

When it comes to living up to the standards of a celebrity, it’s clear that only the extremely wealthy can afford such a lifestyle.

That’s what journalist and author Emily Day discovered after she was commissioned by the Sunday Times to take on Gwyneth Paltrow’s routine for a week.

The overall theme was to do whatever the Goop website – Paltrow’s online empire – suggested.

From eating vegan food at Cafe Gratitude, where each dish starts with the words “I am…”, attending an intense “urban sweat lodge” that burns off up to 1,500 calories in under an hour, pricey facial treatments that left an astronomical $2,000 price tag, as well as vaginal steaming which Paltrow recommended back in 2015 – all suggested by Goop for better health and balance – this seven-day endeavor wasn’t one for anyone short of having disposable income and free time to manage both her lifestyle and image.

It became obvious that you’d need to be part of the wealthiest 1 percent if you were ever going to be able to truly replicate these extreme or luxurious treatments that celebrities like Gwyneth undergo on a frequent basis.

It just goes to show how difficult it is for any woman living in modern culture today whose unrealistic expectations are being constantly challenged and worshipped in all forms of media.

The Power Of True Friendships: Learning To Let Go And Move On

Friendships can be hard to maintain, but they can ultimately be more rewarding than even romantic relationships.

This has been shown in Day’s experience, who had a close friend she used to do everything with when she was in primary school.

But then a new student arrived and things changed as Susan started spending more time with Rachel and less time with her.

It was only when Day went off to college that she gained another best friend, demonstrating how importance friendships are, and she learned from her mistakes in her twenties not to give unsolicited advice or hover too much over a friend who is struggling.

Creator of the popular British TV shows Fleabag and Killing Eve Phoebe Waller-Bridge works closely with her best friend Vicky Jones as partners in a production company – something which has given Waller-Bridge the confidence and fearlessness to pursue her creative work without worrying about failing.

Their tight bond has allowed Waller-Bridge to say that Jones is what real love is all about and that men are more like their mistresses!

Similarly, Day’s friends have been there for her ever since her divorce and helped get through some very difficult life events.

She has learned to accept it if friends move on and sometimes being a true friend means wishing them luck on the next phase of their life.

All this just goes to show how friendships sometimes can be even more rewarding than romantic relationships!

It Can Be Liberating To Move Past The Stereotype Of Having Kids: One Woman’s Story

Stereotype Of Having Kids

Jenny Day was 35 when she realized the reality of not being able to have biological children.

After two years of trying, with her then-husband, Day found out that she had a bicornuate womb–a shape that increased chances of miscarriage.

She decided to try in vitro fertilization (IVF) and encountered procedures like “scratching” which were so painful that it caused her to faint.

Unfortunately, both IVF cycles were unsuccessful and Day felt immense pain from potentially missing out on motherhood.

But it’s important to remember that there is no one way that women should be living their lives, and not having biological children doesn’t nullify them as individuals or make their lives any less fulfilling than others.

Elizabeth Gilbert pointed this out: many women may feel sad about being “childless,” but this doesn’t have to define them.

Day discovers this truth herself; although it’s been a difficult journey and her infertility has taken physical, emotional, and mental tolls on her life, overcoming the feeling of missing out can ultimately help people accept themselves wholeheartedly and realize they still have meaningful futures ahead of them–even without traditional family structures.

Women Rediscovering Their Right To Be Angry As Society Moves Toward A Healthy Balance Between Empathy And Anger

For generations, women have been expected to not express their anger when confronted with injustice or unfairness.

Women were painted as being irrational and out of control if they displayed that emotion – so much so that displaying anger could actually get them burned at the stake as witches in centuries past.

Even in more recent times, with the rise of figures like Rosa Parks, who was known for her strength and courage, it wasn’t until the Me Too Movement that it finally began to feel alright for women to show their anger.

In How To Fail At Almost Everything And Still Win Big author Phoebe Waller-Bridge points out how men are usually given more leeway when expressing anger – it is seen as an instinctual part of their core being, rather than a character defect punishable by law and humiliation.

Sadly, though this may be starting to change – especially with female role models in Hollywood like Wonder Woman or Black Widow fighting back against injustices – society still tends to look unfavorably on expressions of anger from women.

Fortunately, times are changing.

With the shifting focus back towards empowering women and lifting up those who had their voices suppressed for so long, more women are able to use their anger in creative and constructive ways.

This is a necessary step forward towards true gender equality and balance between empathy and anger – freeing us all from outdated expectations of silent suffering that has plagued generations of women before us.

Real Happiness Comes From Reevaluating Our Values, Not The Pursuit Of Fame And Money

Fame And Money

Failing at success isn’t a contradiction; it’s a common occurrence that teaches us that material things aren’t what’s most important in life.

This was seen through the experiences of actors Nicole Kidman, Simon Pegg, and Robert Pattinson who have all experienced unnatural levels of fame from their success.

Despite all their fame and money, they were still unfulfilled and resorted to therapy in their quest for real happiness.

Nicole Kidman sank into depression after winning an Oscar for The Hours.

She chose to retreat into nature and took some time away from acting while she reassessed her values.

It wasn’t until her late 40s when she said she felt better than ever before and could work again with enthusiasm.

Similarly, Simon Pegg found himself lost amidst the glamor of Hollywood despite his successes in franchises like Star Trek or Mission Impossible.

It took him entering his 40s, giving up drinking alcohol and becoming a father to rediscover joy within himself, rather than trying to find fulfillment from external materialistic sources.

And finally, Robert Pattinson found that he was completely isolated due to lack of personal control over planning his own life which lead him down the path of seeking counseling for traditional beliefs about such practices being “namby-pamby”.

Moving on from these actors’ examples is Sarah Day – author of How To Fail – who similarly benefitted from self-reflection via therapy as well as taking fewer critics’ opinions into account in order to be able make honest stories about herself.

Through this book summary we can learn that ultimately our failures show us true happiness is not necessarily achieved through having fame or money but rather by finding internal peace within oneself.

Wrap Up

The How to Fail book provides readers with the invaluable insight that, ultimately, how we react and learn from failure is how we turn any supposed failure into a success.

This book explores all of the ways in which we can take our failures and use them as a learning opportunity.

It looks at situations such as school, relationships, jobs and more and shows us how to make these failures work for us.

At the end of it all, it is important to remember that no matter what life throws your way, you have the ability to turn those experiences around.

Failing doesn’t mean you can’t go on; in fact, learning from those moments can be one of the most valuable learning experiences in our lives!

So if you want to make the most out of your failure, take some time and reflect on what went wrong and why it happened – this is key to true success.

Arturo Miller

Hi, I am Arturo Miller, the Chief Editor of this blog. I'm a passionate reader, learner and blogger. Motivated by the desire to help others reach their fullest potential, I draw from my own experiences and insights to curate blogs.

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