It's Tough Being Perfect

>> Saturday, August 9, 2008

Recently, I had lunch with an old friend. We have arrived at similar points in our lives and had a lot to talk about. We compared our lives. We asked each other for advice and we shared past mistakes.

As we talked I began to notice another theme to our conversation: perfectionism. We seemed to be complaining about things one minute; trying to "solve" each other's problems the next. As we sat there in a comfortable restaurant in a nice neighborhood, I couldn't figure out how to get us out of this line of stress. Of course it's obvious now.

We are both trying to be the best we can be and when we fall short of perfectionism, we find ourselves trying to figure out why. And getting stressed about it. We were complaining about our shortcomings and discussing what class to take, what book to read, what approach to take to make things better. We are both dissatisfied with our current lives.

I have seen a lot if this toxicity in my own life over the last few years. I have even coined a term for it: my life is a work in progress. But, the question is, when is the deadline? When will I have finally finished all the work on my life? Either I will never finish or I will finish and find myself too old to enjoy it.

What both my friend and I need is a reality check. We need to become more mindful of what we have going on right now in our lives, rather than how great our lives could be. We need to live in the hear and now and stop stressing about what we can't control. I know I need to embrace the present, whether it be good, bad or just plain boring.

When I was a little kid and first realized the concept of time, I also realized the limits of our memory. That if we didn't do something memorable, the day would soon be forgotten. I came up with a mantra to help ease this knowledge: Now is now, so live it up!

As an adult, I am learning mindfulness meditation to help me do just that, while reducing my stress. Though what I am now seeing is imperfect, it is imperative to accept it for my nontoxic life.