How to manage your money wisely. How to meditate with results. How to feed yourself and your family a wholesome, balanced diet. How to wake up in the morning the right way. How to be exactly what your partner needs. How to ace your way through that interview. How to raise well-rounded, happy kids. How to have radiant skin. How to attract your ideal clients on social media. How to nail that yoga pose. How to journal your way to success. How to have a perfectly decluttered, feng-shui’d home. How to express your emotions in a positive way. Ten ways to teach, talk, sleep, eat, drink, move, feel, complain, play. Better.

Feeling the pressure suddenly? Heaviness on your chest?

I’m not surprised. And I bet you’re holding your breath.

Now try this on instead.

How about we infuse our lives, our days, our moments with as much passion, grace, good humour, patience, kindness, openness and (self) compassion as we can muster? Just muddle our way through. Muddle your way through.

How’s that feeling? Notice how your body responds. Is there more space somewhere? Has the weight shifted somehow?

It’s not that I’m dismissing all these approaches that are offered to us – they all have merit (mostly) and each will have some wisdom to impart, particularly if we focus on extracting the bits that resonate and ditch the rest – but the pressure to excel is very real. Those of us with perfectionist demons rapping at the door can easily reach the point of overwhelm. Overwhelm is like caffeine to the mind (I speak from experience) and that monkey chatter goes into overdrive, drowning out our intuitive voice.

We create the implication that we ought to be getting it right. There’s also a collective feel that we ought to be treating the various facets of our life like we are taught to deal with subjects at school – separately, one at a time… oh, and ace each one. But school is nothing like real life, and there’s an almighty reason why we can’t master each one and move onto the next.

It’s because we’re not meant to.

It’s because life is presented to us in such a way to allow us to grow. The challenges, the seeming chaos, those tight spots… are there to show us something special – if we are prepared to see it. If we aren’t, well, they just remain challenging, chaotic and tight.

Another way to look at this is to consider that we might just have it all wrong. What if ‘right’, ‘well’, ‘perfect’, ‘balanced’ have nothing to do with it? What if Life really wants us to embrace our glorious mess so we learn the art of self-forgiveness, or so that we can saturate our being with the meaning of patience? What if the whole point is to become aware of all the different dances around us so we can consciously let go of what isn’t for us and shower ourselves with love and acceptance? What if the glory lies, not in attaining any goal out there but, in excavating the treasures within, in stretching what’s in here and in remembering who we are, so we serve the greater good?

I can’t go any further without mentioning Leonard Cohen: “Forget your perfect offering”.

Just forget it. Show up for your meditation practice and leave your expectations behind. Relish that yoga pose – aim to express not impress. Write that book, while your kids are demanding you to help them in the garden. Yes, a boiled egg counts as dinner. Do things in such a way that brings out the best in you and the people around you, not to portray yourself at the pinnacle of everyday life. Just show up, to yourself, to your loved ones, to your work, in whatever capacity your heart is guiding you.

Just muddle your way through. You can even let yourself off the hook as far as passion, humour and patience go – sometimes we can’t make it that far, and sometimes it’s not necessary.

What happens when we choose to muddle instead of doggedly strive for the ideal is that we start to become a witness. Head up, rather than head down, allows us to hear those whispersSlow down. Be patient. Accept what is. Forgive. Open up. It’s not that everything starts going smoothly around us, it just means appreciating there’s a larger plan behind all the whys and hows we have going on. We remind ourselves we’re here to learn something in this jumble of a life, and that somehow creates a little room to breathe. Life doesn’t squeeze so hard when we choose the path of least resistance.

And when it gets tight, as it quite often does, whisper sweetly, as I do: I’m muddling gracefully.

If this helps you in some way, please share it or forward to a friend who needs to hear this so that they too can feel some spaciousness in their life.

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