Over the past few months, I’ve been on a journey of learning the importance of resting and how to ensure I make the time to do it. Just the fact that I have to “schedule” downtime into my life is a little clue of its ability to get swept under the rug. As I said in my previous blog, finding time to rest physically isn’t so much of the problem—the real problem is resting my mind.
Typical of most people, especially the creative sorts, turning off my thoughts feels about as possible as becoming a Star Trek fan instead of a Star Wars fan (something that, if you know me at all, is impossible). There is always something that needs doing, something that needs scheduling, something that needs creating. Even things that I love can take their toll if they are just added to the ever-growing list of to-dos. So, of course, the first thing I shuffle off to the procrastination pile is taking time to rest my mind. This is even worse than a Scarlet O’Hara “I-won’t-think-about-that-today-I’ll-think-about-that-tomorrow” kind of procrastination—this one goes something like “I-won’t-think-about-not-thinking-about-that-today-I’ll-think-about-not-thinking-about-that-tomorrow.” (Did you get that?)
As I was considering this, rather flummoxed at how I will ever learn to quiet my mind, I began thinking about the pressure of just how many things are expected to get done in a day—things culture expects, things that need doing, things I expect of myself to do—and I wondered how it was humanly possible to really accomplish all of it. Was my constant feeling of lack and unaccomplished tasks an accurate estimation of myself and my life? Were all of the pressures I felt really necessary? I am a hardworking, strong-willed, determined, perfectionistic Irish/Viking go-getter, so it’s no surprise to me when I lock onto something until it’s finished, and finished well (if you’ve followed my blog, you’ll remember the story of when I threw out fifteen-hundred pages of my book because it wasn’t good enough). But what if some of the resting that I am craving—and that I think many people are craving—is lacking because one mindset is stuck in our thoughts: it’s never enough. Are you ever haunted by that feeling? For instance, I run a mile and instead of feeling a sense of accomplishment I think “I should have gone two miles”, or I cross off half a checklist and instead of seeing it that way I only see that there is still an entire other half to do.
I wonder if my pursuit of understanding rest might have something to do with this. No wonder my mind can’t ever rest if I so frequently feel like whatever I have done is not good enough.
As I considered this the other day, I was reminded of a teaching I heard a long time ago from one of my favorite speakers, Havilah Cunnington. Speaking along these same lines and bringing up similar thoughts, she came to the conclusion that at some point things have to be good enough. Not in a resigned it’s-as-good-as-it’s-gonna-get kind of way, but truly accepting and believing that when we do our best it is good enough. Sometimes it’s just good enough for today, sometimes it may be even good enough for that hour, but there is no point running myself ragged because of a pressure that will never really go away no matter how much I do. In life there will always be more to do.
I believe excellence is simply doing something with your whole heart—the result itself really isn't as important. So if I do my best at what needs to get done and what I think needs to get done, and if I do my best at loving well and making time for fun and for taking care of me, even if I don’t get it right, it was excellent. And it was good enough for today.
My encouragement to you today is simply to try to find a place of“good enough” in your life. It will probably look different from mine, and from everyone else around you. It could be more or less than what is good enough for your closest family members. But when you find it, remember it, and the next time a feeling of failure or pressure or lack wants to plague you, take a moment, close your eyes and say out loud to yourself, “it is good enough.”