Let’s face it: in 2011, you’re going to make mistakes. I certainly will. I’ll step on toes and have my toes stepped on. I’ll make unhealthy food choices, say the wrong things, and forget to do things that are good for me. In short, I’ll be constantly reminded that in my human existence, I’m a whole lot less than perfect.
Over the years, however, I’ve come to appreciate that my imperfections hold great value. In them, I can deepen my love for others and myself, see opportunities for growth, and connect on a more authentic level to the people around me.
Too often we think the goal in life is to be perfect. In the pursuit of this goal, we set up standards for ourselves that are impossible to reach or unhealthy once realized. We want to be as thin as a runway model or as financially successful as a socially isolated billionaire. In short, we resolve to attain external goals that fail to honor the internal experiences that bring us joy and keep us disconnected from other people.
This year, rather than resolving to look like a model or to buy material possessions that will fade and break, why not resolve to learn from the mistakes we’ll make and to love ourselves and others more deeply. Through this softer and gentler approach, we can connect with the things that make us better people and bring us joy – rather than beating ourselves up for failing to reach an impossible standard.
To help you in this regard, let me share with you my 2011 resolutions:
1. When I make a mistake this year, I will focus on the space between the thought that arises when I realize the mistake was made and my reaction to it. In this space, I will take a breath and cultivate a sense of forgiveness.
2. After a period of reflection and consultation with another person who I trust, I will apologize and make amends to others and myself for mistakes made.
3. When my critical mind starts to tell me I’m a bad person or that someone else is a bad person for making a mistake, I will break that thought by counting from 1 to 100.
4. Instead of denying that a mistake was made, I will give myself the space to explore what the mistake says about the situation and me.
5. I will remind myself on a daily basis that I am a human being and that human beings are imperfect creatures whose main goals in life are to learn and love.
6. Instead of focusing my energies on acquiring external things, I will cultivate a sense of internal joy by honoring others and myself. In pursuit of this joy, I will be present and available to other people’s experiences and strive to connect with them on an authentic emotional level.
My hope in 2011 is that you and I can celebrate the life we’ve been privileged to receive rather than living in a state of self-criticism, shame and guilt for failing to meet impossible and unhealthy standards. Life is short, precious and meant to be honored and shared. Honor your humanness and share your love. In so doing, you may not find perfection, but you will find great joy.