Perfection is a myth. All of the conflicting, confusing messages in the world are distracting us.
We move from one idea to another. We lie to ourselves. We think the next thing will bring us happiness. Our lives would be perfect, if only…
“I’ll be happy when I am fit and toned.”
when I get that promotion.”
when I live in my dream house.”
We fill the emptiness and boredom of our lives with the next fix.
There are drugs everywhere – food, shopping, Netflix, caffeine, Instagram.
I am not perfect. I love good food. I feel a high when I fill my cart on Nordstrom’s website. I start my day distracted on Instagram. I fill the void.
I try to turn off my phone at least one day a week – usually on Sunday. It’s so damn hard. It calls to me. It beckons me to pick it up, turn it on.
It’s usually an extension of me. Everywhere I go, it’s no further than an arm’s length away.
It represents an addiction to information, a refuge from boredom, and sadly, an escape from having to spend time with myself – alone.
When you have your phone, you are never really alone. You can pop on Facebook and stay connected to friends. You can live stream your life, and share it with total strangers and people you (kind of) know.
Our lives have become an open book – and for some odd reason, we’ve become addicted to viewing the lives of others. It doesn’t matter if we know them or not. In a sense, we’ve been given permission to stalk people. It’s downright creepy. And now it’s become normal.
There is no privacy. I can find out where someone bought their clothes, where they live (and how much it cost), how much they make, their net worth (if they’re a celebrity), and where they vacation. It invites comparison.
It’s impossible not to compare our life to others. Even though we know – deep down – that their lives aren’t perfect, we want to believe.
It’s a fantasy. Social media is a scripted universe. We portray what we want others to see.
Spend a day in their shoes and it might actually be depressing. How many selfies did they take in order to get it just right? Are they truly enjoying the experience and living in the moment, or are they always thinking about the next great shot? The next clever post or description?
How often do they check to see who liked their last post?
Are we becoming so insecure that we depend on validation from others?
This type of “happiness” – or temporary (drug) – is not real and sustainable.
This false perfection is toxic. It is always unattainable. No matter how good our life is, someone else’s will always appear better. Grass is always greener. And the more we try to reach it, the further it will be. Perfection will always be out of reach.
You may be feeling depressed now, or ready to put this book down. I’m sorry to be such a Debbie Downer. There is hope, I promise!
This doesn’t mean that we should give up and become coach potatoes or bums.
It means that we are not looking in the right places, when we set our goals and aspirations.
It means that we need to find true, real inspiration – not false sources.
It means that we need to redefine “happiness”.
This quote from Jim Carrey has stuck with me: “I think everybody should get rich and famous and do everything they ever dreamed of so they can see that it’s not the answer.”
Reflecting on my own life, I can understand this. There have been several times when I believed something would bring me more happiness than it actually did.
I set a goal to be promoted to “Account Director” before I was thirty, and I exceeded that goal. I was promoted to “Vice President”, and although I was proud of my hard-earned accomplishment, it was not the feeling I was expecting. It was nice, but not everything.
Paul and I took our dream vacation to Europe. It was lovely, and we enjoyed (almost) every minute of it. We created some great memories, but it wasn’t everything.
I planned my dream wedding, and it was a really dreamy day. We have beautiful memories and photographs, but it wasn’t everything.
When it’s over, it’s over. Life continues.
Each of these experiences share a common thread. The anticipation and planning of each event brought me the most joy.
I know, I know. You’re rolling your eyes right now, and waiting for the “it’s the journey, not the destination” metaphor. I won’t say it. ☺
There are so many books on happiness. Be healthy. Get organized. Become a minimalist. Live up to your true potential. Be your best self.
There may be some truth here. But it’s not everything. No one can give you a recipe for happiness.
But there is a foundation. Basic needs that need to be met – food, water, and shelter. This does not mean Whole Foods, Evian, and a Penthouse.
If you are not hungry, if you are not thirsty, if you are not cold in the winter nor hot in the summer, you are blessed. Many people do not have these things. You should recognize this and be thankful. You are among the lucky.
Next comes health. If you do not have your health, nothing else will matter. It is the next most important thing. When you’re healthy, it’s easy to take it for granted. When you are sick, it impacts every facet of your life. Not just physical, but emotional and physiological. Learn from my experience. (more to come)
Finally, love. Without love, we have no purpose.
Love can take on many forms – friendships, acts of service, romantic relationships, love of one’s self.
There is no greater gift than to love and be loved in return. (cue the Beatles)
Even with all of these wonderful things, you may not feel fulfilled – which is why growth is the highest achievement.
Not accomplishment or reaching the goal. The act of pursuing a goal. The act of growth.
Like a tree, if we are not growing, we are dying.