Revisiting Good Enough today.
I knew when the words formed in my mind and the words tumbled out of my mouth, I have said this before - many times.
Something drew me back to this idea of good enough the last couple of weeks. It was probably the fact that I was tired of fighting the mental battle of constantly striving for an unreachable goal. It’s not that the goal is entirely unreasonable, it’s that the goal isn’t practical for my current season in life. It’s not even about perfection, because honestly I don’t think I could ever have been described as a perfectionist. I know some people who could, and, no, that would never have accurately described me. I like the idea of excellence, striving to do one’s very best, but perfection? Life’s too short. And in that vein of thought, even a particular vision of excellence may turn into something more like perfection. It’s all about expectations. Your’s, their’s, mine - expectations are the great thorn in the side of many people, mine included.
So what to do with these expectations? Throw them out the door. That’s right, throw them out on the street and close the door behind them. You don’t need them. Try not to invite them back in or even let them slip inside the door while opening it to other welcome guests such as hopes and dreams. They may seem like they are from the same family, but they are not, I assure you.
Let’s take for example, Pinterest. The idea behind Pinterest is wonderful. I love having a place where I can save ideas for the plethora of things I might like to do. It opens up an almost infinite network of sharing examples, methods and patterns, etc. Unfortunately, it also can open up a black hole of expectations. Have you ever experienced a Pinterest Fail? There’s a term for it! - so you know it’s not a rare thing. Mostly, we find them funny and can laugh at our attempts to perfectly match something and fail so miserably at it. I can’t speak for everyone, but it can also be an unkind realization that my expectations might have been a tad bit too much. Even so, I think Pinterest is a fantastic tool if used properly.
Back to the problem of expectations. My above thoughts about Pinterest sort of make light of the issue, but in truth it can be a serious problem for many of us. Expectations run the gamut from the most insignificant issues to the greatest challenges we face in our lives. Expectations about what our life might look like in five years, expectations about how people will contribute to our lives and we to their's, our happiness and their's, how people will respond to our choices and our words. Expectations about what we ought to be capable of doing and what we deserve from life. It has been said that contentment is not having what you want, but wanting what you have. Expectations are a common cause for our discontentment. Acceptance is the beginning of gratitude and contentment.
I share a simple example of this at work in my life. This morning as I enjoyed my morning coffee and quiet time, I took note that I had delayed doing a small thing that brings me a little joy because it would not be perfect the only way I could do it right now. The top of my kitchen cabinets is the primary location in my house where I decorate for seasons. It brings a little smile to my heart when I look at the few things I have collected over time and allowed myself to keep in the midst of years of de-cluttering. We have never had permanent lights anywhere on or near the cabinets, so I learned years ago to simply add a string of lights to help light it up a bit. I like the warm glow it brings - a bit of hygee you might say. When I changed the decor from Summer to Autumn last month, some of the lights had gone out so I wanted to replace them.
On a side note, I don’t even have all the items on the cabinets that I usually do because the only way it got done at all was to gradually add a few things over time as I made trips up and down the stairs where my things are stored and brought them up and added to the collection. Time has not been kind to me this year. It seems that I am losing some of it, although I know that is not true. I am just not using it as wisely as I could. I am a procrastinator by nature; I’m learning to overcome this tendency by watching my daughter, Christina. She inspires me to do better.
Back to the lights. I bought a couple strings of Christmas lights while out shopping with my daughters yesterday. I left them on the counter in hopes I would find time to put them up. I could have put it off again knowing that it would be less than perfect, but instead, this morning, while still in my pajamas, I grabbed the step ladder and strung the lights across the cabinet tops. It took me two minutes, literally. I don’t like that they hang in a rather unsightly way to the outlet, but you know, it’s good enough. And now I can enjoy the warm glow of lights in my kitchen for the rest of the year. Two minutes!
How many other areas in our lives can we determine that even a two minute effort could be good enough? Maybe we can get rid of some of our expectations and learn how to accept things the way they are and find some contentment and peace. I’m banking on there being many opportunities to prove this. How about you?
This is such a small and seemingly silly example of the role expectations can play in our attitude. I plan to visit some other ways that might seem a bit more significant. I hope this inspires you to consider the role expectations might be playing in your life, and how shifting more towards acceptance can benefit you.