You’re perfect just as you are … and you could use a little improvement.
— Shunryu Suzuki Roshi
It’s the 31st day of December, and fluffy snowflakes are beginning to fall outside my apartment window. 2013 is coming to a close, and like so many others, I’m preparing for a night of introspection and champagne.
You’re perfect just as you are …and you could use a little improvement. My teacher shared this zen quote in yoga this morning, and I’ll be taking it with me to the party tonight as my own private mantra, to be remembered in between lively conversations and lighting wish papers on fire.
On this day when most of us are thinking about resolutions and goal-setting, let us remember to be gentle with ourselves amid self-improvement.
Don’t get me wrong, there’s plenty that I want to work on in 2014. My need for approval and to be “liked” by others has dominated my existence for as long as I can remember. It most definitely played a role in my eating disorder, and I suspect it’s also at the root of what others have criticized as my lack of authenticity. I suppose when you’re living to please everyone but yourself, even the most sincere expression can seen disingenuous.
Now it would be easy for me to say, “THIS is what I’m finally getting rid of in 2014: that damn need to please!” It would be a much greater challenge to softly acknowledge that character trait, observe that it’s not serving me, and then try to love it anyway.
Yet that’s just what I’m going to do. Because if I condemn this quality that must have served me at some point in my early life, then I’m sending my subconscious the message that there’s something wrong with me. And there isn’t. However, if I can find real love and compassion for the part of me that needs external approval, then it stops the cycle of self-punishment and frees me up to create a more beneficial pattern.
So when you finalize your New Year’s resolutions this evening, I challenge you to acknowledge that you are already perfect just as you are. Cultivate love for those parts of yourself that you perceive to be imperfections. Thank them for helping you navigate the world thus far. And then, sure – set a goal or two. Because all of us perfect souls could use a little improvement.