Living the perfect life in an imperfect world
Despite having worked with and having met literally thousands upon thousands of people over many years working as a psychologist, coach and consultant I’m yet to meet anyone who’s perfect.
I have, however, met many people who’re living fabulous, happy and successful lives. (Despite not being perfect!)
What’s their secret?
Well, to be perfectly honest, there isn’t necessarily one secret that works for all of them but rather, they all have their own combination of key ingredients. Yet that being said, there’s no doubt a common theme throughout the lives of these inspirational folk, which is their ability to accept the imperfections in our often messy world.
Actually, on reflection, it’s something even more than this. It’s not just accepting but more so it’s celebrating and making the most of life’s (and their own) imperfections.
Several years ago I discovered that the Japanese have a philosophy that beautifully describes this attitude; they refer to it as wabi sabi and the good news is it’s something we can all learn to integrate into our lives.
Imagine learning to love faults and weaknesses; in yourself and in others. Imagine celebrating the beauty in cracks and mistakes; within people and the world around us. Imagine savouring the incomplete and even the incoherent.
Imagine a life without so much frustration and disappointment!
Wabi sabi represents this ideal and I sit here writing this as an example of how such an approach can improve one’s life. Having spent years denying and being distressed about all the various aspects of my life that are far from perfect, and there are many, I’ve recently learned to come to terms with the fact I can’t excel at everything and that my “weak points” are in many ways what make me who I am; which is actually pretty good. I wouldn’t be me without being all of me.
I’m not saying I do this perfectly all the time; but that’s the point. None of us can do anything perfectly all the time… honestly embracing this has made me happier!
“Happiness doesn’t mean that everything’s perfect…”
So if you’d like to bring the practice of wabi sabi into your life then give some consideration to the following:
- Firstly, remember that wabi sabi and the acceptance of imperfections doesn’t mean you can’t or shouldn’t aim to be better. Setting and working towards self-improvement and positive goals is still worthwhile and will only be helped by accepting current realities
- And current realities are that we’re all flawed; rich and poor, young and old, we all have blemishes and it’s these that in many ways make us human and connect us with humanity
- Looking at the whole picture is more realistic and more authentic. Honestly accepting and embracing our weaknesses and our strengths allows us to be all we can be and limits the extent to which we’ll allow what we can’t do stop us from doing what we can do
- Finally, letting go of the struggle to be perfect allows us to let go of the frustration and dissatisfaction that causes so much distress to the lives of so many of us. With much less of these negative emotions we’re more likely to enjoy much more of the positive emotions which in turn, increases our chances of achieving what we want to achieve and, therefore, being happy and successful
Audrey Hepburn supposedly once said that “happiness doesn’t mean that everything’s perfect; it simply means you decided to look beyond the imperfections”. As much as I love this quote I’d modify it slightly.
My version would be that “happiness doesn’t mean that everything’s perfect; it simply means you decided to love and embrace the imperfections”!
Give it a try and let me know how you go.
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