The title of this post is a line from a beloved book I read over the past year “The Art of Racing in the Rain.” It’s a book written from a dog’s point of view living with his owner. It has a spiritual subtext and if you love dogs it’s a must. But back to the line and why it’s here. I previously wrote about being a mean boss to myself. What came up this week in meditation and a yoga practice was fear. Fear of failure. As a long time perfectionist, the concept of failing is horrifying to me. It is what has kept me stuck many times. It has had me often only doing things I know I could definitely excell at. Academic achievements came easy. All I had to do was apply myself, dedicate myself to the process of learning, which I love, and I was golden. It is why if you look at my resume you will see a laundry list of degrees, certifications and trainings. The more I learn, the more I want to learn. This brings me to two points, the balance between being and becoming. In the book, The Happiness Project, Gretchen Rubin speaks about one aspect of happiness is challenging the mind; learning new things. These things being things that spark interest, passion, love, inside you. The concept of learning being a part of growth and growth being a part of happiness is also supported in the research on neuroplasticity. Neuroplasticity is the process of the rewiring of the brain to create new synapses (pathways) for learning and developing. The synapses we don’t use die off and as we continue to stretch ourselves to learn new things, we develop new pathways. This strengthens memory, knowledge and growth. This research challenges the original thought that the brain was a stagnant organ. No sirre! It also keeps us young despite out age. The key to Rubin’s comment about happiness and the research on neuroplasticty is that YOU have to be the one to pursue new things. Neuroplasticity occurs even when we take a new route home from work or try a new food or read an article we have never read.
Here within lies the paradox for the overachiever. Yes, growth is good. It creates new pathways for learning, growing, opportunities for happiness but what about the concept of being at peace with yoirself now? That can get lost when a person (ahem….me) gets too overly focused on becoming and not enough time sitting in the sun staring at the ocean, the birds or those very silly pigeons near my job in the City. Just be here now. Isn’t that like the yoga teacher anthem? Breathe in, breathe out, just be with the breath…blah blah blah A while ago a trusted friend told me “we teach what we need to learn.” Uh ya, that’s for sure!
So back to the title, our eyes go where our car goes. You move towards what you focus on. FOR SURE. So instead of focusing on my fear of “oh my god, what if this doesn’t happen? What if I fail? Then certain people in my life would be right.” I choose to focus on today. Being in my favorite cafe on Newbury Street, having iced tea with you all. Rubin wrote in her book that another aspect of happiness is to fully embrace failing as fun. Oh that’s rich. How? Well Rubin uses the old trick of restructuring her thoughts. “If something is worth doing, it’s worth doing badly.” That made me laugh, she was talking to me, totally. Between reading her chapters on embracing failure and moving my energy in yoga, I think I am ready to move forward. I chooss to tell myself a) your biggest fears never come true (whoch is yhe same for all of us) and seriously “What the hell?” I will enjoy the moment, move forward and allow the process to unfold. Mistakes will come as well as amazing surprises because that’s life. As I tell my clients it’s happening because you are human. Life ebbs and flows, shifts and changes and surprises you with delight when you least expect it. Besides there’s always the option of going on “Shark Tank” for financial backing!!
I’m not sure if you relate but knowing several other perfectionists, I know you are out there too:) Hopefully enjoying your day and having fun!