Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Congratulations! You're not perfect!

As I was doing more research on Perfectionism, I found this great quote that looks at the topic with a sense of humor.

And since being able to laugh ourselves is a wonderful way to combat Perfectionism, I wanted to share this quote with you. Enjoy! :-)

"Congratulations!  You're not perfect!  It's ridiculous to want to be perfect anyway.  But then, everybody's ridiculous sometimes, except perfect people.  

You know what perfect is?  Perfect is not eating or drinking or talking or moving a muscle or making even the teensiest mistake.  Perfect is never doing anything wrong - which means never doing anything at all.  Perfect is boring!  

So you're not perfect!  Wonderful!  Have fun!  Eat things that give you bad breath!  Trip over your own shoelaces!  Laugh!  Let somebody else laugh at you!  

Perfect people never do any of those things.  All they do is sit around and sip weak tea and think about how perfect they are.  But they're really not one-hundred-percent perfect anyway.  You should see them when they get the hiccups!  Phooey!  Who needs 'em?  

You can drink pickle juice and imitate gorillas and do silly dances and sing stupid songs and wear funny hats and be as imperfect as you please and still be a good person.  Good people are hard to find nowadays.  And they're a lot more fun than perfect people any day of the week. " 
 ~Stephen Manes  

If you would like to embrace your imperfections and be happier with yourself and your life, check out our  upcoming 5-week “Secrets to Happiness” Workshop!

Friday, August 2, 2013

Want to be successful? Stop trying to be perfect.

We might understand that perfectionism does not make us happy, but we may still believe that it will make us successful. After all, we have all heard phrases like “No pain, no gain,” or “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.” It often seems like we have to go to extremes in order to become successful.

I certainly used to believe so and 10 years ago, I threw myself into my career, working long hours without breaks and sacrificing my personal life in the process. And while it did not bring me a lot of happiness, I was hoping that it would bring me success. If I suffered now, it would be worthwhile if I could be happy later, right?

The problem is that while perfectionism may propel us to perform some great feats (and there are certainly perfectionists who are successful), it is actually limiting.  In “The Pursuit of Perfect”, Tal Ben-Shahar provides 4 reasons while perfectionism can keep us from success.

1.    In order to learn and grow, we must fail. There are examples throughout history, including Thomas Edison and Abraham Lincoln, who have shown this to be true. However, perfectionists want to look good and appear flawless. So making mistakes and failing do not become an option, keeping them from reaching their full potential.

2.    Research in peak performance has shown that we perform best when we feel moderate excitement. But because perfectionists are so resistant to failure, they are often paralyzed by an intense fear and anxiety, which does not allow them to perform at their best.

3.    It takes many years of work to become an expert at something and then more effort to sustain success. It is very difficult for Perfectionists to sustain this kind of effort, because they are focused on the result (the destination) and are unable to enjoy the journey. Because they do not feel happy during the long journey, they often get overwhelmed by the strain and sacrifice of sustaining the effort, and are more likely to give up.

4.    Finally, the perfectionist has an all-or-nothing approach – if it’s not done perfectly, it is not worth doing.  This can lead to procrastination or paralysis, thinking “If I don’t try, I can’t fail.”  The result is a very inefficient use of time, and progress becomes much slower or is halted altogether.

Do any of these seem familiar to you? I recognize all of these symptoms, having lived through them myself. Learning to fail and make mistakes is something I have been practicing over the years, and it’s still something that’s not easy. I still notice when I am afraid to try something new or reach out, not wanting to get rejected.  But now I can choose to take some risks that I weren’t able to tolerate before. I still feel fear and anxiety in certain situations, but it is much less than before, since I am much more accepting of failure and mistakes. I am very familiar with procrastination as well, but telling myself that it doesn’t have to be perfect helps. And while I certainly burned out before in my corporate career with such an intense focus on the destination, I am now really focused on enjoying my daily journey in my coaching business, so I don’t fall into the same trap.

So while success does take some work, it does not mean sacrificing joy and happiness on the way there. If we are just willing to stop trying to be so perfect and accept detours and setbacks as natural, we can enjoy the journey as well as increase our chances of success. Let’s embrace imperfection! 

Manuela loves helping others bring more happiness into their lives!  Check out her upcoming 5-week “Secrets to Happiness” Workshop!

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Don't Be Perfect - Be You

"Don't be perfect
Be you
Don't be what you think they want you to be
Be what you know you are
Don't look outside yourself for anything
It's all within.
~Jackson Kiddard

A great reminder that being perfect won't make us happy, even though we may have been conditioned to believe otherwise. There is no perfect person and there is no perfect life. 

When we try to be perfect, we reject who we are. As a result, we don't feel good about ourselves or maybe even ashamed. When we accept our imperfections, we embrace ourselves as we are. It doesn't mean that we stop growing or changing - we just don't withhold our love for ourselves until we reach some future state that may never arrive.  We can feel good about ourselves right now and as a result, we become happier.  

Manuela loves helping others bring more happiness into their lives!  You can visit Manuela's Website for Personal Success Coaching and check out her upcoming “Secrets to Happiness” Workshop!

Friday, July 26, 2013

Is Trying To Live a Perfect Life Keeping You From Living a Happy Life?

“I am not really trying to live a perfect life,” you might say. “I don’t have to be a multi-millionaire or an award-winning actress or live on my own island.”  So maybe you are not an extreme perfectionist, but you may be surprised to learn that perfectionism comes in many flavors. Check the questions below, inspired by Tal Ben-Shahar's book "The Pursuit of Perfect", to see if you are actually pursuing a “perfect” life, rather than a “happy” life.

1.       Do you believe that your path toward a goal should be direct, smooth and free of obstacles and get frustrated when it isn’t?
2.       Do you believe that a happy life is composed of a stream of positive emotions and don’t want to experience anger, disappointment, sadness or fear?
3.       Do you always strive toward the next goal, but no matter what you have achieved, it doesn’t seem to be enough and you don’t feel successful?
4.       Are you being hard on yourself and others? Have you noticed that you get defensive when others criticize you?

If your answer is “yes” to any of these questions, you may be pursuing a “perfect” life. Ironically, while we think that a “perfect” life will bring us success and fulfillment, it is actually keeping us from living a happy life.

I have been guilty of all of these beliefs at some point. I used to think that life was a straight line that continues to slope upward and whenever a setback occurred, I would think that this was just one outlier! After this stumbling block, if I tried hard enough and did everything “right”, life would invariably finally begin to move up again in a straight line. Of course, that’s not how life works. Maybe it’s movies and fairy tales that give us the illusion that this is the way things are “supposed to” look, but as many of us have experienced, life is actually a journey with ups and downs and spirals. 

And each of the “detours” is a natural part of life and a necessary experience on the way to success. Without failure and mistakes, we don’t learn and grow. What would shift if we actually saw getting laid off, falling sick or arguing with a friend as part of a full, fulfilling and happy life?

Similarly, happy people are not always full of positive emotions, but they also let themselves experience painful feelings.  When we block painful emotions, we keep ourselves from feeling, and in the process also block pleasurable ones. Furthermore, painful emotions expand and intensify when they don’t get released and when they finally break through, they overwhelm us. In order to be happy, we need to allow ourselves to experience the full range of human emotions.

Not taking pleasure in our accomplishments is another way we keep ourselves unhappy. If we are constantly in a rat race, always pursuing the next goal, we don’t take time to experience gratitude and don't acknowledge ourselves for each accomplishment. Also, as I explained in How To Set Goals To Make You Happy, it is the habit of really enjoying each step of the journey, rather than the achievement of the goal that brings us the happiness we are looking for. 

Finally, being hard on ourselves and others comes from the belief that it is possible and necessary to go through life without any errors. But while nobody likes to make mistakes, it is of course part of life. Trying to lead a life where everything goes smoothly and not accepting failures as healthy and necessary, brings extra stress and unhappiness.  If we are being hard on ourselves, chances are that we are hard on others as well. If we easily find fault with ourselves and others, it’s easy to become defensive when others criticize us. The kinder and more compassionate we become toward ourselves, the more kindness and compassion we can show toward others and the happier we feel.

So, it's your choice: Do you want to live a perfect life or a happy life? It’s ironic: Many of us strive for perfection, because we are under the false belief that reaching the perfect life will actually make us happy. But in reality, trying to be perfect is what keeps us from finding the joy we are looking for! 

Are you willing to live an “imperfect” life, knowing that it would make you happier? 

Manuela loves helping others bring more happiness into their lives!  You can visit Manuela's Website for Personal Success Coaching and check out her upcoming “Secrets to Happiness” Workshop!

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Take Nothing For Granted

"Let today be a day where you take nothing for granted. For life is fleeting, fragile and precious
and can change on a whim. Say all the things you really want to say to your loved ones today, say the things you would regret should they pass on and your words remain unspoken."
 ~ Jackson Kiddard

We just finished reading "The Age of Miracles" with my book club, which is an "end of the world" type of story. As we discussed what we would do if we found out that the end of the world was coming, it struck me that we really never know how much time we have left. We usually believe that things will stay the way they are for a while, so we can spend time with loved ones in the future or say things we want to say some other time. 

But really, who knows what will change tomorrow, next week or next month? It goes back to finding happiness in the present, rather than waiting to reach some goal in the future. Why not create some precious and meaningful moments right now?

Manuela loves helping others bring more happiness into their lives!  You can visit Manuela's Website for Personal Success Coaching and check out her upcoming “Secrets to Happiness” Workshop!

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

I Am a Perfectly Imperfect Human Being

I ran across this quote by Jackson Kiddard today and I loved the message of complete self-acceptance as well as the acceptance of others.  We are all perfectly imperfect. What if we could just embrace our imperfections as well as those of others? Wouldn't we be much happier?

His full quote reads:

"Today I affirm that there is nothing in me but love.
This love comes from total acceptance of myself
and the understanding that I am a perfectly imperfect human being.
I will walk through today and allow myself to fully express my perfection.
I realize that all my "faults" are actually the Universe's unique way of expressing itself through me.
I let go of self judgment and any projected judgments of others that I have chosen to believe
and finally allow myself to just be what I truly am:  infinite.
As this is true for me, so it is true for all other beings on the planet.
I will choose to accept everyone in my life with the same radical acceptance I have for myself
knowing that we are all perfectly imperfect human beings simply doing the best we can.
And so it is."

~Jackson Kiddard 

Manuela loves helping others bring more happiness into their lives!  You can visit Manuela's Website for Personal Success Coaching and check out her upcoming “Secrets to Happiness” Workshop!