Sunday, December 19, 2010

Perfection - Not

As usual, I’m never quite sure what I’m going to blog about it. When I started my blog originally, I had visions of my spending hours selecting and preparing the perfect message that I wanted to send – sort of like that perfect Christmas gift we work so hard to find each year. Thankfully for me, maybe not so much for my readers, that didn’t last. I found myself instead going with the flow. Now that meant sometimes there were errors in my blog because I hadn’t given myself time to find and correct. Some of those errors added to my blog rather than detracted and some I won’t admit were errors to begin with. They were all planned, David. lol.

One of my favorite blogs is Gretchen Rubin’s Happiness Project. I just finished reading an interview she did a few days ago with Oliver Burkeman. I haven’t met this writer yet but plan to as soon his new book comes out in January titled, HELP! How to Become Slightly Happier and Get a Bit More Done. Below is an excerpt from her interview with him that was something I needed to be reminded of. Maybe you will too. Especially during the often stressful holiday seasons.

Question: What’s something you know now about happiness that you didn’t know when you were 18 years old?

Answer: Among many, many other things: I no longer think of perfectionism as one of those traits you should be secretly quite proud to possess ("Oh, I'm a perfectionist, yes, I'm just not happy unless I'm producing brilliant work!"). Perfectionism is 100% bad and evil. As Anne Lamott says, it's "the voice of the oppressor, the enemy of the people; it will keep you cramped and insane your whole life". Working as a newspaper journalist on deadline has drummed much of it out of me — there's nothing like a screaming editor to make you abandon all hope of a perfect opening sentence — but it's an ongoing challenge. I guess I shouldn't be perfectionistic about getting rid of perfectionism, though.

Question: Is there anything you find yourself doing repeatedly that gets in the way of your happiness?

Answer: Stressing out about potential problems that haven't actually happened yet. Eckhart Tolle recommends asking yourself "Do you have a problem now?" — as in, right this very moment? The answer is almost always no. I need to get this tattooed somewhere prominent on my body.

Question: Is there a happiness mantra or motto that you’ve found very helpful? (e.g., I remind myself to "Identify the problem.”)

Answer: I love the late Japanese psychotherapist Shoma Morita's advice to stop trying to fix yourself and start living instead: "Give up on yourself. Begin taking action now, while being neurotic or imperfect, or a procrastinator, or unhealthy, or lazy, or any other label by which you inaccurately describe yourself. Go ahead and be the best imperfect person you can be and get started on those things you want to accomplish before you die." To some people this sounds depressing, but to me it's the exact opposite: utterly freeing.

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