Friday, February 4, 2011

The Pressure of Perfection

When we were in school, we would study a subject and then be asked to pass a test. Most of us can remember the unpleasant sensation in our body around having to take an algebra test; few of us, probably, remember the quadratic equation. After you finish school, you realize life isn’t about tests anymore. Life becomes about living and being and going through each day in the pursuit of happiness. We all strive to live by the Golden Rule, “Do to others what you would like to be done to you.” Yet sometimes we forget the golden rule or get caught up in the drama around us.

Life as Practice
We only get one life to live and this is it. While this may seems a bit sad and depressing, let’s look at it another way. In a lifetime of 75 years you’ll have 2,366,820,000 seconds. During some of those seconds, you’ll remember the Golden Rule. During others, you’ll forget about the Golden Rule completely and purposely choose the opposite. The idea of life as practice is that you have the very next second to do something different. Think different, feel different, speak different, be different.

To really understand life as practice, consider this… You are thirsty so you walk into the kitchen and open the refrigerator. You’re about to grab some cool, fresh water and you spot a can of soda. As your hand is about to pick up the water, you start replaying old stories in your head. “I want a soda. Soda is bad for me. But I’ve been good lately, I deserve a treat. I am too fat. I miss soda. I’ll only have one. I love soda!” Depending on how active your mind is this little dialogue could go on for several moments. What happens next? You take a soda, pop it open and take a big long drink, quickly, so as if to pretend it didn’t happen. After you swallow the soda and begin to walk away, you grumble at yourself. You know water is better. Your body really wanted the water. You feel weak‐willed and upset with yourself. You’re still walking away, the soda still in your hand. Now you have a choice. Take another swig of soda or pour the rest of the can down the drain and go back for water?

Life as practice. You can make a different choice in this moment, too. So what if you chose the soda in the last moment? In this moment, you can choose again. And again, and again, and again. When you make a bad choice, give yourself the space to make a better one the next time. Don’t get caught up in being perfect each moment of each day. You aren’t, you won’t be and trying to pass each and every test without exception is a great way to make yourself unhappy. The idea of practice is that we keep practicing. Over and over; each moment a new moment.

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