If you would like to live your perfect life, the first thing you must do is give up your pursuit of perfection. How's that for double talk? The main challenge with perfection is that perfection almost always lies just out of reach, sort of the impossible dream that can't be had. Indeed, perfection cannot be had, at least not how you might typically think about it; however, it can be experienced.
In order to get to the heart of this idea, you need to distinguish between three key elements: the outer world, your inner experience and where you place your focus.
Outer World Perfection
If you're looking for perfection in the outer world, then you may be out of luck. The outer world just isn't designed for perfection -- perhaps you have noticed. Things out here tend to break, decay over time, or simply become outdated. Even the Rock of Gibraltar is in a slow state of decay or change. Everything in the outer world is in a constant state of change -- nothing, as in nothing, is ever stable or unchanging.
Even the best ideas will be supplanted sooner or later, so striving to make the outer world conform to some standard of perfection will surely be doomed. Even if you can make something in the outer world appear to be perfect today, that perfection will be short lived, as the natural process of change continues to take place.
Inner World Perfection
Nature is perfect if you choose to experience it that way, but it can also be oh-so-imperfect if you focus on the outer "flaws." Seasons change, trees grow old and die, and even giant rocks can become sand given enough time. If you are one who appreciates the "natural order" of things, then you will celebrate that state of dynamic change, which can be its own form of perfection. Sunsets start in one hue, change many times over their short-lived time, and in that state of constant change, sunsets are truly "perfect." The sunset isn't made perfect or imperfect because a cloud wound up in just the right or wrong spot. If you can watch a sunset and experience the perfection in its constant state of change, might you be able to do the same thing with your experience of life?
Choose Your Experience
If you're still tracking with me, you are probably aware of the paradox -- nothing is perfect in the outer world, and yet much can be experienced as perfect. It all depends on your attitude, on how you choose to view what is happening around you. The same applies to how you experience your inner life.
Learning to discover the good in what is present opens the door to the experience of perfect. Perfection is something you can experience but you cannot possess. Even that perfect experience cannot be possessed -- it must be lived in the moment, which brings us back to the conundrum: To experience your perfect life, you must give up the pursuit of perfection.
I wrote an earlier article about "The Myth of the Spiritual Path," suggesting that there is an illusory quality to a spiritual path. Being on a path suggests that where you are headed is someplace other than where you are now. As Teilhard de Chardin noted many years ago: "We are spiritual beings having a human experience." If you would know your spiritual path, if you would know yourself as spirit or a soul, all you need do is stop and notice who you already are. Many have suggested that the spiritual path leads home and, as the old saying goes, home is where the heart is. And where is your heart? Yup, right where you are. Right now.
In a similar way, your perfect life is right here, right now, brimming with experiences, all designed to lead you back home, back to where you already are. A perfect life is not measured by what you accomplish, have or produce; rather, a perfect life is measured by the quality of experience you extract along the way, by how you go about learning, growing, and discovering more of what works for you. Many have counseled over the ages that the secret to a life well-lived is to use everything as an opportunity to learn, to grow, to advance. Even adversity can be viewed as a "present," an opportunity to discover gifts, skills or lessons you can use to advance beyond the constraints that come in the guise of adversity.
When can you learn, grow or discover? Certainly not yesterday, because that's over and done. Tomorrow has yet to happen, so any future growth, learning or discovery is somewhere between a hope and a fantasy. Real growth, learning and discovery takes place right here, right now, today. Perhaps you have heard this wonderful bit of wisdom, attributed to so many I have no idea where it originated: Yesterday is history, Tomorrow is a mystery, Today is a gift - that's why we call it the Present.
Living in the now, living in the present, is the perfect gift. It is only in this moment that you can choose your focus -- you can notice the grace of the tree, the beauty of the sunset, or the interesting ways your husband/wife/kids/coworkers go about making their lives work.
In blogs to follow, I will explore this question of creating your perfect life experience in a variety of ways, ranging from how you experience your most personal relationships to how you can create your "perfect" version of life next year.
In the meantime, I would love to hear from you about what you have experienced in your life, how you have managed to at least "make lemonade out of the lemons" that so often accompany day-to-day life. Please do leave a comment here or drop me an email at Russell (at) russellbishop.com.
P.S.: If you would like a deeper experience of this approach to life, join me for a highly-experiential workshop in Santa Monica, Calif., Feb. 7-11, 2013. Insight I: The Awakening Heart, a seminar I designed many years ago, is a powerful journey into living a heart-centered life, one designed to help you create the life you would prefer rather than the one you may have settled for. Insight is offered through Insight University, a not-for-profit educational organization. You can learn more by clicking here.
For more by Russell Bishop, click here.
For more on GPS for the Soul, click here.
If you want more information on how you can apply this kind of reframing to your life and to your job, about a few simple steps that may wind up transforming your life, please download a free chapter from my book, Workarounds That Work. You'll be glad you did.
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Russell Bishop is an educational psychologist, author, executive coach and management consultant based in Santa Barbara, Calif. You can learn more about my work by visiting my website at www.RussellBishop.com. You can contact me by e-mail at Russell (at) russellbishop (dot) com.