We live in a society that tells us who to be.
A checklist hangs above us, its instructions are simple: You can’t be happy until you’re perfect. All the little imperfections destroy us. We’ve decided that if we change this or that we’ll finally be happy in our own skin. It never stops, does it? Look in the mirror and what do we see? All the reasons why we don’t deserve to be happy. Instead of love, our vision is filled with hate. Instead of joy, we dance with agony. Instead of successes, we are failures.
At what point did we stop celebrating our strengths?
As a child, I can remember the absolute glee of achievement. If I did good, I felt good. When I made a mistake, I barely blinked an eye, it was but a small hurdle on the path to success. A mistake simply told me where I went wrong. I didn’t fret but rather learned.
Somewhere along the line, I lost that simplicity, as I think many of us did. I became so caught up in the race to be perfect that I forgot to be happy in the present. Even in my successes, I found only more anxiety. What a strange concept, to receive good news and immediately think, “But what about everything left to do.”
How do we combat this ever-growing imbalance?
Collectively, let us take a breath. Deeply in and deeply out. Let yourself exist here for a moment. Be present. Don’t let the future that you’re trying to build destroy your reality in the present. You can’t be in a constant state of working. Breaks are a necessary part of functioning well. Don’t guilt yourself for simply existing for a moment.
2. Focus on intention not outcome.
Realize that each of your actions had a hopeful and positive intention. Your intention and action is your power. You have no control over the way the world responds. Put your time and attention into the way you respond to the world, not the way the world responds to you.
3. Examine your mistakes.
Mistakes can have a positive or negative impact on your life depending on the way you process them. Without realizing their value, they can have lasting negative effects. If you stop to examine your mistakes without judgment, you can find the teachings of those moments and use them to grow and expand your life.
4. Celebrate your successes.
Embrace the products of all your hard work. Do not simply brush them aside to take on more tasks but instead take time to enjoy them. Do not ruin good times by looking at what could be better. You are only guaranteed what you have in this moment. Take time to appreciate it.
5. Accept that growth is a constant component of a happy life.
You will never reach the summit of perfection; it is an unattainable goal. You can, however, grow into a better person every day. Your happiness is found in the journey, not the finish line.
Take another deep breath. Next time you look in the mirror know that you are whole.