This post is the third in a four-part exploration of how the second of our four inner senses—vitality—helps us imbue our experiences with meaning. At the close of the previous sensory balance post we were knee-deep into the first of two vitality examples tailored to perfectionists and overachievers. Here’s the insight-filled conclusion of that example.
For Perfectionists and Overachievers (continued)
So how does all of this fit in with the opening of this story? Given that Monday was a day when life and spontaneity conspired to laugh at my plan behind my back, I did not manage to publish the blog that day. Tuesday morning dawned cold and dreary. It was raining and forty degrees here in Colorado—a state that boasts three hundred sunny days a year and no humidity. I started the day by smacking myself around and insisting that today I would be much more disciplined—a synonym for control. (It’s interesting that I know so many synonyms for control but so few for spontaneous). Clearly, I still didn’t get it. So life and spontaneity had to team up yet again, filling my morning with things that needed to be done other than writing blog posts. I did have a few moments of enjoyment finalizing the materials order for a new art medium I was getting ready to teach, but otherwise I had no fun, I swear (like admitting to having fun would be a capital crime). Life and spontaneity tag-teamed me all morning. Six hours whizzed by. I had a minimal breakfast again, and I headed for lunch more than a little shaky, realizing I hadn’t eaten much or written anything for the blog. I did some meditative breathing, which got rid of the symptoms but didn’t address the root cause. So I said, “Fine. I’ll just be a slacker again today, not write anything for the blog, and focus on my next life coaching paper for the rest of the day. Maybe I can finish the twenty-three-page paper in one day and then …” You get the picture.
Unfortunately, I still wasn’t getting the picture. There I was, driving to lunch, having given up my old plan, and working hard on my new plan, when in a moment of grace, it hit me: What if my plan was the problem? What if this was how I had given myself ulcers and anorexia by age nineteen? What if this was how I had become obese, burned out, and depressed at age fifty? What if my friend was right and it wouldn’t matter where we worked? If we were stocking shelves in Target, we’d have to be the best darn shelf stockers Target had ever seen. What if, my dear friends, wherever we go, there we are?
Finally, the light dawned. I remembered what I knew in my soul: the world and I will be best served if I publish when I have something meaningful to say, not when I’m supposed to have something to say. That if my goal is to touch your hearts and save you some agony by sharing with you the often painful lessons I’m learning about how to have deeper peace, longer-lasting joy, and more meaningful relationships in my life, maybe the best way to do that is to stick to my end of the bargain. Pay attention to what is happening to me, figure out what it means, and pass on the message. I finally understood the difference between perfectionism and excellence. Perfectionism is not a lofty goal or enviable trait. Perfectionism is a fear-based illusion riddled with lies and characterized by force. Excellence is a love-based reality characterized by flow and grounded in the truth of who I am and Whose I am: a unique and precious cocreative expression of the Divine. The highest good—faith, hope, prosperity, peace, and joy—is not served by using force. The highest good is revealed and advanced through love, respect, curiosity, compassion, and gratitude.
Just like that, I was ready to write my next blog post. There I sat in a restaurant, without a plan, scratching notes on napkins and scraps of paper so I could hold onto all the insights until I could get back to my laptop to publish them.
My fellow travelers, I propose a much-needed holiday from all our planning. A day when we honor the gift of life by breathing with intention and feeling the blood coursing through our veins. A day when we just go with the flow, drink a leisurely cup of tea, read the paper, take a nap, play with the kids, pet the cat, and explore the possibilities. Because anything is possible. If I can baby step my way to deeper peace, lasting joy, and more meaningful relationships, if I can finally get a life and not just make a living, then anyone can.