Most of the time we seem to wait for conditions to be right so that we can be happy. Conditions often have something to do with being ‘perfect’. “When I get the job I long for” “When my health improves” “When my child gets better marks” “When my partner changes”… then I will be happy.
In a chat with someone yesterday about strawberries I was enlightened – yes you read me right, I did say strawberries. He was showing me this punnet of beautiful, round, juicy, red strawberries and we discussed how while they looked a little less perfect than those in another shop we know, they still did look unnaturally round and red and uniform and suddenly I realised the obvious and said, “Perfection is unnatural.”
The implications of that obvious statement are pretty big. We are mostly walking around upset because things are not perfect the way we want them to be. But if you think about it, that is a rather bizarre thing for us to be wishing. Think about anything in nature – the most beautiful thing you can think of.
Go on – do that now.
Now ask yourself if anything about that is ‘perfect’ in the way we usually mean it. Is it symmetrical? Is it uniform? Are the colours ‘correct’? Is the layout perfect in any way? I know you’ll answer no because nature ain’t like that.
In fact, I saw an almost perfect flower in a garden a while back and I really put my eyeball right up close to it to check it out. I appreciated its symmetry and uniform colour and the spots on it that looked downright computer-designed… but I felt quite disturbed by it. Maybe this is just my own issue… but it was like coming upon an apple tree that looks like one in Bob The Builder or a Mr Men book . It was weird. It looked and felt UNNATURAL. And if all flowers looked like that it would get boring quite quickly. So why the heck are we striving to be perfect? It’s not natural and it’s not interesting.
What IS the perfect job anyway? What DO perfect children look and sound like? What is the perfect body?
Doesn’t perfect just mean ‘that which best suits YOU’? Isn’t ‘Perfect’ is just an opinion?
“Ok”, you say, “point taken. But all these imperfections are very uncomfortable. I would like things to be the way I want them to be. That would best suit me.”
Hmmm, yes…but does ‘best suits you’ always mean being comfortable? Interesting thought.
Research shows us that we need a certain level of stress to be optimally functional. Too little makes us lethargic (which Is probably why constant perfection would get boring) and too much makes us stress-bunnies. You need some – not too little and not too much. Some stress is actually good for you.
But stress isn’t comfortable. It creates movement, it elicits change… then again, that IS in your best interests because anything in nature that stands still is actually dying.
So is it possible that sometimes that which ‘best suits you’ is initially uncomfortable – like cod liver oil or leg braces or an honest conversation about racism? In those moments, what doesn’t FEEL ‘perfect’ to you, may well BE perfect for you.
Our uncomfortable situations are highlighting where we are in our life journey and what we apparently would like to get more skilled in. If your children don’t listen to you or they drive you nuts, apparently you want to get more skilled in believing in your own worth and loving yourself (read my previous posts for explanations of this connection). If you are in an abusive situation of some kind apparently you want to get more skilled in believing in your own worth and loving yourself. If you hate your job apparently you want to get more skilled in believing in your own worth and loving yourself… are you sensing a theme here?
When we believe in our own worth and truly love ourselves we do what we need to keep ourselves safe, healthy and happy. We deal better with life and with other people. Then life tends to become easier and more fun – even when difficult things come our way.
Natural things and people are not uniform and symmetrical in look or behaviour. They are messy and bump around as they grow and learn to love and let be.
‘Perfect’ doesn’t help you do that.
Give up striving for some notion of ‘perfection’. It’s very bad for your health.