Friends, I have an admission: I've been a bit irritated lately.
I realize that the cause of my irritation might be because I'm reaching an age where I have some experience under my belt and am therefore becoming somewhat jaded; or it could be the fact that I spend my working day online, and so I have an incessant barrage of information in front of me at all times. Still: I am bothered by the amount of "advice" that comes at us constantly, from all directions. And the worst part is that the advice often contradicts itself.
Some examples: I've read things that said tell me I should go completely vegetarian -- vegan, if possible -- and other essays that tell me that my greens need to be supplemented by lots of meat. I've seen articles that extol the virtues of a hard, intensive physical workout every day, and others that tell me that good health can only be obtained by a commitment to meditation and gentle yoga. I've read that in general, we parents aren't spending enough time with our kids, and others that say we're crippling our children by not allowing them enough time to be alone. I've read that all sugars, including alcohol, are bad for you, only to turn around and read books that say the health benefits of honey and a nightly glass of red wine cannot be underestimated. I've heard that we should all support public schools, and but then presented with research that says private schools (or homeschooling, or unschooling) is the only way to ensure that our kids get a good education. I've seen articles that state we should aspire for wealth, and read posts that say we should simplify our lives. I've read books that say we should make detailed plans, and I've read others that say we should follow our intuition. I've even read that Christianity/Judaism/Islam/Hinduism/Buddhism/agnosticism/atheism is the only true way to develop any sort of moral code.
It's too much, man.
I'm over reading articles that profess to tell me the right way to live my life (and intimate that if I'm not doing what they say, I'm screwing up royally). I've grown weary of research telling me what is absolute gospel about my health and well-being, only to be told a few years later that the data we've all been relying on is bunk, and this is the actual research we should be paying attention to. And I'm truly at the end of my rope with articles and papers that attempt to tell me what my moral code should be based on.
So I thought I'd write a post of my own. (Yes, I do realize the irony of this.)
To that end, if you're also tired of all of the advice coming at you, this is my definitive description of how to live a perfect life, conveniently listed in three easy steps. The difference between this advice and much of the other advice that you might read online is that you have the author's express understanding that you are free to ignore it if you wish.
how to live a perfect life in three easy steps:
1. Try your best. And the most awesome part? You get to decide what "best" is. I mean, let's face it: you're all grown people. With all the experiences and teachers and mentors and people you've admired and respected that you've had in your life, I suspect you determined the difference between right and wrong a long time ago. And besides, remember back in elementary school, we learned what our "conscience" was -- that inner voice that helps us decide what's right or wrong? Well, rather than deeming what the "experts" say as gospel, let's just use their words as merely information for consideration, and actually rely on our consciences to help guide us in determining what our "best" is. Listening to your conscience will tell you if you're trying your best with regard to your profession, with regard to your personal life, even with regard to your health.
And here's a quick tip, in the off-chance you lack confidence in what your conscience is telling you: if you're leading with kindness, you're more that halfway there. And remember to lead with kindness not just when dealing with friends, coworkers, or strangers, but with yourself, as well. Be kind in the way you treat your body, your mind and your spirit. Do this, and watch how your world responds.
2. At the end of the day, if you find that at any time during the day you fell short, cut yourself some slack. Remember that despite the tongue-in-cheek title of this post, there isn't a person alive on the planet living a perfect life, despite what his/her Facebook or Instagram feed might lead you to believe. So if, when reflecting on your day, you can think of a moment where you didn't try your best (at work, with family members, with you), remind yourself you're human, and know that you'll get 'em next time.
Then spend a moment silently celebrating the good things you did, making a mental note of what happened during the day that you're grateful for.
Finally, turn out the light and get a good night's sleep.
3. Repeat steps 1 and 2. Daily, preferably. But if you find at the end of any particular day you've skipped #1, then at the very least, do #2.
And with that, have a great week, friends. You got this.
Song: The Song of the Heart by Prince (from the Happy Feet soundtrack)