Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Strive not For Perfection

Disclaimer: I do not believe every study that pops up out of the gloss-over-news-factory. However, I am including this one because it proves my point. Therefore, it must be correct.

NPR ran a story today on a weight loss study. The experiment sought to find out if all those sexy models  inspire us or hinder us. Half the women in the study were given a food diary with a picture of the same sexy model on every page. The other half's diary contained a picture of a tape measure. That was the only variable. Those with the sexy woman diary actually gained a little weight. Those with the tape measure lost weight.

The theory is that we see that image of perfection, realize we can never get there and get discouraged.

The same thing happens spiritually. In our culture we are held to an image of a perfect god. We can never measure up to that so we give up trying. This is not helpful.

When we move on to realize that the process of becoming perfect is perfect in and of itself a great deal of the pressure is relieved as that perspective correctly reveals we are all a work in progress and that is just fine. In fact, it is part of the design. There are other advantages:

  • If the process is perfect, then there can be no flaw in any part of the process. Given that we are part of the process, we too must be perfect.
  • Positive and negative actions then become lessons rather than moral judgement. 
  • By accepting that we have things to learn and are in a continual process of becoming, we can enjoy those lessons and the successes they later bring. This makes a spiritual life a fun life.
  • When we have to give things up to grow, we feel less deprived and more honored that another lesson has been bestowed upon us. 
Trying to be perfect right now, in a moralistic sense, does not work. Realizing it is the process that is perfect allows us to relax and see ourselves realistically. 

We are not judged by the divine but continually guided to newer versions of perfection.


gareth said...

thanks Robert, I am starting on a path but have a tendency to beat myself up for not keeping up, not doing things correctly etc. Wnat you say helps take the pressure of....

Robert said...

If you go back in this space, you'll find me beating myself up a lot along with others. This is counter-productive. I am glad to help you reduce that to a reasonable level.

Anonymous said...

Jujitsu such a good reminder. In magic, as in anything, progress day by dowdy day counts so much more than great achievements in a single night. The palaces of Aladdin can fade in the morning sunlight, but good magical work persists day to day through expert, but not perfect attention. Skillfulness comes through practice and deliberate effort — but you know that. :-)

Anonymous said...

Not at all sure if that comment went through. Sometimes your comment function is wonky for me, and I just give up.

But yes... To grow in power and strength requires practice. And practice requires giving up perfectionism — as hard as that is. Magic requires giving up both the illusion that "I can be good at this without practice," and the illlusion that "I must do this perfectly for it to work.". Curiously, the truth lies somewhere between...

Robert said...

comments are moderated. So, I have to approve them. It confuses a lot of folks. If you have problems besides that, feel free to hit the email button and send me a note.