I’ve always expected perfection of myself – anything less I considered failure, and beat myself up about it. But as I follow my personal path of enlightenment, I’m beginning to understand that I don’t need to strive for perfection in my life. The generally accepted definition of perfection is unattainable. I am perfect as I am now, with all my imperfections.
So if perfection is impossible, where do we go from there? I was taught as a child that we must strive for excellence in all things. ”If it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing right,” was an oft-quoted saying attributed to my beloved maternal grandfather. Now, if you hear a thing over and over and over and over and over and…(you get the picture), eventually it becomes a part of you. This saying is a well-worn rut in my brain, which provided the oomph necessary on many occasions for me to finish my task with excellence. Yay me! Right? No…wait…something still doesn’t feel right.
Yesterday, as I was reading Scott Noelle’s Daily Groove post from EnjoyParenting, which talked about “the false idea that it’s bad to make a mistake or fall short of one’s expectations,” I had this thought: Not only do I not need to strive for perfection, I don’t even need to strive for excellence.
Bear with me here. It’s not the excellence that’s the problem. It’s the striving. I’m not saying that there won’t BE excellence in my life, but I feel like I understand how it’s supposed to work now. I now have the freedom to decide NOT to do something with excellence. Unthinkable! Ah, but it’s true. As I get older, I realize that many of the things I grew up believing as fact aren’t really true at all, or at least not for me. It’s much smarter to recognize which tasks just aren’t worth that much effort, and let them slide a bit. The things I want to be great at are the ones that are fun and capture my interest, so I’m likely to invest more time and effort into them, which is conducive to excellence.
So, how does that translate into my real life? Among other things, my house may look a little cluttered and my dishes probably won’t be done if you pop in for a visit, but my husband and daughter feel happy and well-loved, I’m learning to cook healthy meals and spending time on my artwork and writing – time that I used to feel I had to earn by completing all the “important” tasks that day before spending time on the things I love. Surprisingly, my world hasn’t fallen apart. In fact, I would say that all the people in my household are happier and more at peace since I’ve learned that instead of striving, I can just go with the flow.
And that, my dear friends, is perfect.
Light and Blessings,