Last month, my husband and I took a much-needed vacation to Jamaica. We stayed at a Sandals Resort in Montego Bay. Prior to leaving, we saw a myriad of ads for the resort. They were full of the same – a couple in their 20s with six-pack abs and a rockin’ tan. I laugh, because now that I’ve been to the resort, I can affirm that the people on the island DO NOT look like that. And, the best part is… they didn’t care! They are on vacation and loving every minute of it – belly and all!
This was a story I told in my presentation last week, Get REAL: Turning Obstacles into Opportunities.
It’s human nature to chase perfection. It’s all around us. As a society, that’s what is ‘ideal.’ If it wasn’t, then we would see far fewer ads like Sandals.
I’ve been re-reading the book, Zen and the Art of Happiness by Chris Prentiss. I recall a story by the author. Twenty years before writing the book, he bought a new car and parked it in the alley next to his house. He was walking out and saw an old VW bus scrape the fender. The driver got out, threw his hat on the ground and hung his head, holding it in his hands. He obviously had no money to pay for the damage. This man’s wife was in the car and the son in the back seat. When the man saw Prentiss coming, he looked even more distraught. Prentiss walked up to the man and said, “Perfect. That’s just what my car needed.”
This was not a joke. In fact, to this day, the author has never fixed the damage to his car because it serves as a reminder that the world is perfect, just as it is. The universe doesn’t make mistakes.
To many of us, this probably sounds like baloney. We all focus on the things we wish we could change or improve to fit the ideal in our minds. We think we need to be something more – thinner, wiser, better friends, better parents, better spouses.
I feel pressure all the time to be more and do more, especially as a business owner. Here’s the problem with this line of thinking: something about our confidence suffers when we feel as though we are not perfect. This is especially true for women. Somewhere in the rule book of life as a female, we were taught that perfection is attainable and that we should feel inferior if we do not live up to certain expectations.
This pressure we feel is self-inflicted and only we can stop it. No one has it all. No one. We all deal with less than ideal. We all suffer with self-doubt, worry and fear. I am guilty of it more than most.
I’ve been thinking. What if we really did subscribe to the belief that everything – including us – is already perfect?
What would change about how we live? How would we respond to events in life, even those that hurt us or took something from us? What, if anything, would change in our relationships with others?
This is a big undertaking. We’ve thought the way we have thought our entire life. These thoughts are how we respond to events in our lives. It’s a pre-existing reaction; a lifetime of conditioning.
But, the good news is that anything can be re-programmed, including our thoughts. It’s not going to happen quickly, but awareness is the first step. By knowing how I am wired, I can now take a moment to think before simply reacting to events in my life. By realizing that everyone deals with less than ideal, I can start to accept myself.
I am a work in progress, but I am progressing. You can, too.
Want to join me on this journey?
“All we are is the result of what we have thought. It is founded on our thoughts, and it is made up of our thoughts.” - The Dhammapada