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It’s Time to Stop Chasing Perfection

And start accepting it

You are already perfect.

Yet, you don’t feel it. Far from it. All you can see are imperfections. When you look in the mirror. When you hear the voices inside your head. When you look at everyone else’s life.

And yet, you are perfect.

Your life might not be picture perfect. It might be a tangled mess of conflicting emotions, contradictions, and inconsistencies. But your life is perfect.

You are perfect.

Chasing false perfection

Modern society is obsessed with perfection. And geared towards chasing it. Yet, the ‘perfect’ defined by modern society, doesn’t exist. The perfect 36–24–36 female body. The perfect six-pack abs. The perfect bright-white-straight-teeth smile. The perfect design-magazine home. The perfect dutiful daughter/son/husband/wife/employee. The perfect for-life job. The perfect two-child family. The perfect happy-every-moment life.

That’s fantasy, not perfection.

Worse still, it’s fantasy born from judgement. If there’s a ‘perfect life’, then there must also be an ‘imperfect life’.
Think about the voices in your head that you beat yourself up with. Aren’t they all about how you’re failing at being perfect? How you’re not thin enough, or attractive enough. How your home isn’t big enough, and your car not new enough. How your kids don’t go to the right school. How you’re not attentive enough to your elderly parents. How you don’t do enough for your family.
Who decided what was enough, and what wasn’t?

It certainly wasn’t you. You inherited that way of thinking, from your family and from society.

Reframing perfection

My ‘perfect’ is very different. It’s kind, non-judgemental and accepting.

This kind of perfect allows you to be yourself. As you are. It allows you to see what’s right there before you. And be OK with it, instead of judging it. It doesn’t seek to find fault. It seeks the clarity that can only come from seeing everything as it is.

Seeing everything as it is ISN’T about seeing the world through rose-tinted glasses. It’s about seeing, with clarity, everything before you, and being OK with it ALL. Even those parts of yourself and others you’re less than thrilled with.

Looking at the world like this is hard, because you’re not used to it. Those voices in your head won’t have anything to beat you up about if you start being like this.

And yet, this is what you must do if you want to be happier and less stressed out by life.

Seeing yourself as perfect doesn’t mean that there’s no room for self-improvement. Far from it. It gives you greater room for self-improvement, because it gives you clarity. Clarity that comes from seeing everything and accepting it all. This makes sense if you think about it. If you don’t accept what you see, then what you see isn’t there. And how can you work on something that isn’t there?

I know this one well. A lot of behaviours used to press my buttons. Other people’s behaviours. In response, I complained. I got irritated, angry even. I had to have the last word. I felt I was in the right. All I could see was THEIR behaviours. And I felt MY response was justified.

This way of living was exhausting, and deeply unsatisfying. When it became unsustainable, I was forced to look more closely at behaviours. Starting with mine.

In doing this, I discovered that I behaved like this for a very good reason. I couldn’t bear to see my part in it, let alone accept it. I couldn’t own my behaviour, because it was too painful. You see, back then, I still had the wrong perspective on perfection. So my being perfect required that I have no flaws. This meant that all the flaws HAD to belong to others. That’s why this way of living was unsustainable.

When I was able to see and accept why I behaved as I did, I could start working on myself and my life. I could start down the path of self-improvement that has enabled me to live with much greater ease.

What happens to your life when you see yourself as perfect

Your life gets better, that’s what happens.

When you see yourself as perfect, you STOP:

  • Beating yourself up
  • Being constantly stressed-out
  • Seeing the negative in everything
  • Feeling less happy than you think you should

And you START:

  • Feeling more in control
  • Being more grateful
  • Being more loving
  • Feeling happier
  • Seeing the positive in everything
  • Having better relationships
  • Feeling more alive
  • Living more fully

How to start seeing yourself as perfect

The first thing you need to do is to acknowledge that you spend a lot of time focussing on the negative in your life. On what’s missing from your life, and not on what you have. On wishing things were different than they actually are: “If only I/she was more…”; “When I have …, then I’ll be …”.

When you can acknowledge that you’re wishing your life away, then you can start to change.

There’s an easy way to start shifting your perspective from a negative to a positive one. Begin a daily gratitude practice. At the end of every day, write down three new things from that day for which you’re grateful. You can be grateful for anything! From a chat with a loved one, to finishing a project, to some kind words when you needed them, to a new music download. You can share these at your dinner table, or keep them to yourself. By the end of the week, you‘ll have 21 new things to be grateful for; 91 after four weeks, and 1,092 by the end of the year. After practicing gratitude for a while, you’ll notice some important things. That you have A LOT to be grateful for. And that most of what you’re grateful for comes from OTHERS.

Alongside your daily gratitude practice, these practices will also make you more positive:

  • Vigorous exercise three times at week for at least 20 minutes.
  • Performing a daily random act of kindness/generosity. This can be anything. Like writing emails to colleagues praising something they did. Or paying something forward. Or helping pick up things someone’s dropped. Or giving a bigger-than-expected tip after a meal.
  • Reliving a happy or meaningful experience from your past every day. You know how to do this — you do it with bad experiences all the time! Use a positive experience for this from now on.
  • Practicing forgiveness — of yourself and others — for past wrong-doings. Holding onto grudges from your past hurts you TODAY. You see, your nervous system stores the memory of past, unforgiven hurts. And when something today reminds it of a past hurt, the memory triggers a stress response. This gives a whole new meaning to your past coming back to haunt you!!
  • Strengthening the quality of your relationships. This has the biggest impact on happiness, according to research.
  • Meditating daily. Meditation helps balance your brain, priming it for happiness. Research proves that regular meditation increases the alpha waves in your brain. This gives you more control over your response to stressful situations. Even two minutes a day has an effect, so start small and build up.
  • Being clear on who you are and why you’re here. This gives you a sense of purpose that’s larger than the humdrum of day-to-day life. Humans whose basic needs are met often search for work they find meaningful.

Accepting your inherent perfection

With a positive mindset, it’s easier to accept yourself as the perfect being you are. To see — and love — everything about yourself. To work on the parts you want to change. And, through accepting your own perfection, you can see others, and life in general, in the same light.

When you accept that you’re perfect, you can become the person you want to be. Your best self, living the life you know is possible. This is why it’s time to stop chasing society’s false perfection. And start accepting that you are already perfect.

 

Sarah Blick is a very tall, dog-loving, morning person. She loves to be in the great outdoors, to write, to eat well, to be active and healthy, to make her own household and personal care products, and to listen to indie music. She’s an ENFP (Myers-Briggs) and a Rockstar (Fascination Advantage).

 

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How to create more happiness in your life

And why it’s an inside job

“He makes me so happy!”

“I can’t be happy without her!”

“When I get my next promotion, I’ll be happy!”

When I hear comments like this, it makes me sad. You see, it’s a sign that someone has given away his power. And that he doesn’t understand what life is about.

Giving away your power is something you do all too readily these days. It’s not your fault. You’re encouraged to. No, it’s worse than that. You’re rewarded for giving away your power.

Rewards come from meeting criteria

Whenever you’re rewarded for doing something, it’s because you’ve met certain criteria. Other people’s criteria, not yours. The rewards can come in many forms. A pay increase, or a promotion. A kiss, or a date. An invitation, or a gift.

You’re human, so you like rewards. They feel good.

But that good feeling they generate is fleeting. And is all too quickly replaced by a request to meet more criteria.

Hamster wheel, anyone?

The power game

No one means to give her power away. It just happens. That’s because there’s a power game in play. All the time. It’s the nature of modern society – and not-so-modern ones, too.

Those in power demand obedience. How? Via those rewards you like so much. Rewards come from meeting their criteria; agreeing to meet them is a sign of obedience.

See what I mean?

The meaning of life

Living like this is not living.

It’s more like existing. Existing to please others.

When you believe things like:

“He makes me so happy!”

“I can’t be happy without her!”

“When I get my next promotion, I’ll be happy!”

it’s a sure sign that you’re spending more time pleasing others than living fully. It’s a sure sign that you’re settling in some way. Dancing to the beat of someone else’s drum. And that’s not where happiness lives.

The truth about happiness

Happiness lives within each of us. Yes, even you.

You don’t get happiness from other people or things. You find happiness in yourself. And if you can’t find it, you need to create it.

There’s a wealth of research available proving that you can create happiness yourself. “Create” is an important word, because your brain isn’t designed to make you happy. It’s designed to make you survive. So you have to do the job yourself. You have to take control of your thoughts – and your life – and create your own happiness.

That’s why happiness is an inside job.

How to create more happiness in your life

Here are eight practices to re-wire your brain to be happier. They’re even scientifically-proven*. Stick with them until they become habits – that makes them much easier to maintain.

  1. Exercise three times at week – 20 minutes of cardio training.
  2. Express your gratitude daily. Write down three things EVERY evening that you’re grateful for from that day. You can do this on your own, or with loved ones – each person sharing their three things.
  3. Perform a daily random act of kindness/generosity. There are so many ways to do this. Writing emails to colleagues praising something they did. Paying something forward. Helping pick up things someone’s dropped. Giving a bigger-than-expected tip after a meal.
  4. Re-live a happy or meaningful experience from your past every day. You know how to do this – you do it with bad experiences all the time! Use a positive experience for this from now on.
  5. Practice forgiveness – of yourself and others – for past wrong-doings. Holding onto grudges is bad for your happiness and health. Your nervous system gets triggered into stress mode every time it recognizes something in the present that hurt you in the past.
  6. Strengthen your social connections. In all research, meaningful relationships are the single most important contributor to happiness. Warning: you may need to have your other happiness habits in place before you can get to this one. Being stressed out doesn’t make you a lot of fun to be around.
  7. Practice mindfulness daily. I recommend meditation – even two minutes morning and night makes a difference. A daily meditation practice helps balance your brain, priming it for happiness. It also gives you more control over your response to everything, including stressful situations.
  8. Find the meaning in your life and live it. Have a life vision that reflects who you are and what you’re here to do, and take action every day to live your vision. Remember, dreams without action remain dreams.

Start working on your happiness today. Trust me, it’s the best job ever.

 

Sarah Blick is a very tall, dog-loving, morning person. She loves to be in the great outdoors, to write, to eat well, to be active and healthy, to make her own household and personal care products, and to listen to indie music. She’s an ENFP (Myers-Briggs) and a Rockstar (Fascination Advantage).

* Sources: The Happiness Advantage, Shawn Achor; Stumbling on Happiness, Dan Gilbert; Dave Asprey’s “Science of Happiness” video.

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How to feel the connection you crave

You turn around, waving at your family for the last time. You’re on your way, living your dream.

You’re ready for a big adventure, To live life courageously, pushing past your comfort zone and living every day to the max. You’re ready to meet new people, to experience new cultures. You think about the people you’re leaving behind – your people – but know they won’t be far away. You’ll be sharing every moment of your adventure with them.

You’ve got an action-packed trip. You’ll be constantly moving from place to place, witnessing the most extraordinary things – exquisite sunsets, mind-blowing architecture, the bluest of seas – and the most humbling of things – grinding poverty, extreme violence. You just know you’ll have sensory overload from the newness and wonder of it all.

Six months and thousands of miles later, you pause for breath. Your adventure has been bigger and better than you ever imagined. You’ve seen and experienced so much. You’ve made so many new connections. You’ve grown so much as a result of your experiences and from being on your own. And you’ve given so much pleasure to your people back home, who are living their own adventures vicariously through your blog and Instagram.

You feel alive.

Your aliveness comes from your knowing that you’ve made a deep and meaningful connection on this adventure, With yourself. You’ve always been so distracted at home that you never really spent any quality time alone. Now that you have, you plan to stay connected. Knowing who you truly are feels so good.

It also comes from your having made so many other connections on your adventure. Whilst they’ve not been as deep, they’ve shown you an important life truth – that all beings on this planet are connected. You now understand that you share the same emotions with people everywhere – joy, sadness, happiness, despair, love, fear – and that you are as one with them. Your connection with the natural world has also changed – the wildness you experienced touched the wildness in you – and you understand that you are as one with this world, too.

You feel alive. And yet you feel something else, too. As though something’s missing from your life. This troubles you – how can you be anything but 100% grateful for the life you’re living? You push it aside and carry on, focussing on all the good in your life, and on enjoying your adventure. But, try as you might, you can’t shake the feeling that’s something’s missing. Then, after connecting virtually with your family one morning, you get it.

You’re missing your people. You’re missing the physical connection with your loved ones. You thought that keeping in touch virtually would be enough, but it’s not. You realise that this physical connection with your people is an important to you as your deep connection with yourself.

It’s time to head home, for now. Safe in the knowledge that your expanded horizons will never leave you. Safe in the knowledge that your understanding of connection – to yourself, to your people, to everyone and everything in the world – is now deep.

Safe in the knowledge that you need all three types of connection in your life to feel whole.

Baggage in hand, you rush through the sliding doors. You look quickly to the left, then to the right, your homing beacon flashing bright. You see them. Your people.

You’re home.

 

Sarah Blick is a very tall, dog-loving, morning person. She loves to be in the great outdoors, to write, to eat well, to be active and healthy, to make her own household and personal care products, and to listen to indie music. She’s an ENFP (Myers-Briggs) and a Rockstar (Fascination Advantage).

 

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6 actions that will change your life forever

If you’re like I am, you’ve spent a lot of your life in pursuit of this elusive state of being.

Feeling good about yourself.

Your pursuit has led you far and wide. You’ve read every self-help book going. You’ve owned the perfect home. You’ve done therapy. You’ve gone to meditation retreats. You’ve had your astrological chart done. You’ve hired a personal trainer. You’ve talked to mediums.

You name it, you’ve done it.

And, after all that, you still feel less than great about yourself. Any feel-good moments you encountered along the way were pretty fleeting.

This leaves you feeling deflated, even depressed. You’ve tried everything and nothing works.

Is This It?

No! Feeling good about yourself is just around the corner.

You were on the right track. The answers you were seeking do lie within some of what you tried. But, here’s the thing.

Merely experiencing these things doesn’t create lasting change.

What creates lasting change is action. A daily practice that incorporates all of the life truths you’ve learned.

You need to create new habits that are based on these life truths.

Here are six life truth habits that will help you feel good about yourself if you practice them daily.

  1. Get clear on your values and live your life according to them. If you have some firm guiding principles – and they’re essential if you’re to feel truly whole – they must operate in ALL aspects of your life. e.g. One of the things that drove me out of the corporate world was being told to treat people in ways that went completely against my values of kindness and compassion. e.g. When I’m shopping for anything, I find out everything I can before buying it so I know that the item has been ethically manufactured, has a minimal environmental footprint, etc.
  2. Be compassionate towards yourself and others. To me, being compassionate means being kind, understanding and forgiving. In a world that is becoming increasingly hard and critical, there is a real need for kindness, understanding and forgiveness. You cannot be truly compassionate to others if you’re not compassionate to yourself first. So give yourself a break – treat yourself with kindness, understanding and forgiveness. And then pass it on.
  3. Stop judging yourself and others. When you judge yourself or someone else, you are engaging in toxic behaviour. It’s damaging and exhausting. As a recovering judger myself, I understand how difficult it is to break this habit. What works for me – and has made my life so much more joyful – is to try to understand any difference I encounter and even celebrate it. e.g. When I see a garden full of gnomes, I note that, whilst they’re not my thing, it’s wonderful how much pleasure the owners must get from them.
  4. Question everything and stop making assumptions. It’s human nature to fill any void with something, and usually the first something that comes to mind is an assumption. Assumptions are ALWAYS wrong, and are at the root of most disagreement and conflict. If something isn’t clear, ask questions instead filling the void with assumptions. Ask as many questions as you need to get clarity, and don’t worry about looking stupid. Making assumptions is the best way I know to look stupid, as it turns you into a sheep – someone who unquestioningly follows the views, gossip or doctrines of others.
  5. Express gratitude freely and daily. Even at your lowest, when it feels like everything in your life is going wrong, there are things you should be grateful for. For me, it’s the amazing people in my life, the healthy food I’m able to eat, that I have a roof over my head, that I’m able to spend time in nature. Expressing gratitude helps balance you out and brings you away from the precipice. And gratitude begets gratitude – the more you’re grateful for, the more you’ll have to be grateful about.
  6. Ask for and give help. If you’re the sort of person who finds it easy to help others, you’re probably also someone who finds it hard to accept help from others. You may view the need for help as a weakness, a sign that you’re not capable. It’s not. It’s actually a sign of generosity – that you’re willing to give others that same wonderful feeling you get from helping.

When you start to create daily habits that reflect how you want to live, you’ll start to feel better about yourself. You are in control of how you feel, so take control and design a life that feels good.

 

Sarah Blick is a very tall, dog-loving, morning person. She loves to be in the great outdoors, to write, to eat well, to be active and healthy, to make her own household and personal care products, and to listen to indie music. She’s an ENFP (Myers-Briggs) and a Rockstar (Fascination Advantage).

 

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10 steps to help you take action when you’ve hit rock bottom

This is where a lot of life changes begin. At rock bottom.

Rock bottom is a deeply personal place – no two rock bottoms are alike. It doesn’t matter how you got there, just that you did. Many of us don’t take action until we hit rock bottom. We’re willing to put up with a lot of discomfort, even pain, rather than face up to what’s right there in front of us.

That something is wrong with how we’re living.

And that we need to do something about it.

Here are 10 steps to help you take action when you know you’ve hit rock bottom.

1.    Thank yourself for realizing it

Change cannot happen until you realize something’s wrong. Most people are unwilling to face up to this, and, with their heads down, carry on as they have been for years. You, on the other hand, have been courageous enough to realize that something’s wrong. So take a moment to thank yourself for this – it can do a lot for your self-esteem.

2.    Accept that you can’t go on living like this

After thanking yourself for noticing that something’s wrong, you need to take another courageous step. You need to accept that this way of living has to stop. It’s one thing thinking that something has to stop; it’s another believing it with every cell in your body. This is what acceptance looks like.

3.    Figure out how you got to this place

Before you can move forward with purpose, you need to understand what you’re moving away from. So it’s worth spending time figuring out how you got here. How have you been living? What have your priorities been? Are you proud of what you’ve been focussing on? You need to answer these sorts of questions so you have a good idea of what lies behind the life that led you to rock bottom.

4.   Figure out who you really are

As adults, many of us believe we know who we are. We equate our age with our level of knowing, not realising that the discomfort we’ve felt for much of our adult life is caused by a disconnect between who we think we are and who we really are. In order to figure out who you really are, you need to ask yourself some questions, and some of the answers to these lie back in your childhood. These three questions have helped a lot of people figure out who they really are:

What’s important to you? Are there any personal qualities you want to be known for? What do you value above all else? What qualities in others do you admire?

What do you love doing? Go back to your childhood, from as far back as you can remember until you were about eight. During this time, you were really you. After this age, you were being moulded by society to be a certain person.

What are you truly good at? The things that come naturally to you, rather than the things you’ve learned to master.

5.    List the changes you want to make

When sitting at rock bottom, we may see a lot of things that we want to change about our lives. To exercise more. To eat healthier foods. To deepen a relationship. To drink less. To have more fun. To start a spiritual practice like meditation. To spend more time with loved ones. To work less. To learn to love ourselves. To declutter. To move house. To change job. To leave a relationship. Etc. Whatever your list is, make sure that you document it now, when you’re at rock bottom, so you don’t forget anything important.

6.   Prioritize your list of changes

In order to take action and make changes in your life, the changes must be manageable. Trying to do a list of 10 things at the same time is a recipe for failure, so you need to prioritize them. Start with the ONE thing that you want to change most. Then your top five things. Then the rest. And do them in that order, without starting a new one until you’ve fully succeeded in making the change above it..

7.   Make a plan of action

This is how you turn your fantasy – a changed life – into a reality. Most intentions to change fail because people are unable to take action, so this is a really important step. Take your number one change and decide how you’re going to make it happen. What specific things are you going to do? How often? With what goals in mind? For example, if your number one change is to exercise more, list the types of exercise you’re going to take, their frequency and where you want to get to in the end: hiking 5 km every weekend (goal: 20 km hikes); walking vigorously for 30 minutes every day; rowing twice a week (goal: racing every weekend); etc. Do this for every item on your change list, but only when you’ve succeeded in making the change above it. Be sure to keep your goals achievable – you don’t want them to discourage you.

8.   Be accountable

There’s nothing like monitoring your progress to keep you moving forward. Maybe you’d like to have someone with whom you check in every week to discuss how you’re getting on – someone who will lovingly kick your butt if you need it. Or maybe you’d like a tool like a change log where you document the specific things you’ve done every day to make your change happen. Or maybe you’d like to combine these two, showing your change log to your person every week. It doesn’t matter which accountability system you choose, just make sure you have one. It will dramatically increase your chances of success. (Check out stickK, which uses a Commitment Contract with a Referee or financial stakes to maximize success.)

9.   Have a support system

As you make changes in your life, you will have set backs. This is guaranteed (see this blog post for why). So you really need to have some people cheering you on from the sidelines – people who will be there for you, no matter what. It’s so easy to get knocked off course when things don’t go well. And, after all of the courage and effort it’s taken to get to this point, the last thing you want is to be knocked off course.

10.  Celebrate your successes

Every time you reach one of your goals, give yourself a HUGE pat on the back! One of the biggest momentum boosters comes from recognizing how much progress you’re making as you go along. Celebrate in any way you want – you might want to ‘phone someone who didn’t think you could do it to tell him/her that you succeeded, or to treat yourself to something you love, or to go away for the weekend. You’re rocking those changes, so acknowledge it!

 

Sarah Blick is a very tall, dog-loving, morning person. She loves to be in the great outdoors, to write, to eat well, to be active and healthy, to make her own household and personal care products, and to listen to indie music. She’s an ENFP (Myers-Briggs) and a Rockstar (Fascination Advantage).