Doing Your Best vs. Striving for Perfection

Today I want to share a story from The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz. I love this little book and have read and re-read it more times than I can remember. Every time something speaks to me in a different way.

Do you ever punish yourself for what you consider under-performing or not doing as well as you think you should? I think we all have these moments, most probably when we expect our best yet are not feeling our best.

Why would we expect the same level of performance when we as energy beings have different levels of energy and live in a world where conditions are sometimes not conducive to the same level of performance every time.

The Fourth Agreement is Always Do Your Best, under any circumstance. Do your best, no more, no less. Thus if you are sick your best will not be the same as when you are ignited and vibrant.

We often get stuck holding ourselves to some high expectation of perfection in all conditions, but life is not like that. Just like the ocean there are high and low tides and we need to learn to be kinder to ourselves.

Don Miguel Ruiz tells the story of a man who wanted to transcend his suffering. He visited the Master at the Buddhist Temple and asked how long it would take him to transcend if he meditated four hours a day.

The Master answered, If you meditate for four hours a day, perhaps you will transcend in four years.

Eager to speed up the process the man asked how long it would take if he meditated for eight hours a day. He was surprised when the Master replied, If you meditate eight hours a day, perhaps you will transcend in twenty years.

When asked why it would take longer with more meditation time rather than less, the Master replied, You are not here to sacrifice your joy or your life. You are here to live, to be happy, and to love. If you can do your best in two hours of meditation, but you spend eight hours instead, you will only grow tired, miss the point, and you won't enjoy your life. Do your best, and perhaps you will learn that no matter how long you meditate, you can live, love and be happy.

How would it feel to let go of striving for perfection in every circumstance? What if the expectation of perfection was replaced with the vow to always do your best, no more no less? Imagine the freedom it would create in your life to commit to going with the flow and just doing your best rather than fighting the tides of life.

As Don Miguel says, Always do your best¦Today is the beginning of a new dream.