The Only Way To Find Success Is To Relentlessly Forgive Yourself
Last week, my sister came to visit. It was awesome. We saw Mike Shinoda, got ice cream, and tried lots of great food. I love her and I’m glad we hung out.
But for some reason, whenever I go to an event, a friend stops by, or the week is just generally slow, I still feel like I should get as much done as I usually do. Like I should create the same output, regardless of the time I take off.
That’s impossible, of course. But it creates guilt and that guilt is the real problem. Guilt is a useful emotion. As opposed to shame, it makes us want to step up. To rectify what we did wrong.
But when it comes to being productive, there’s nothing to rectify. It’s not like a crooked picture you can just push back into place. Your life is continuous and each moment is a small dot on a long line. Work is such a big part of that line that it’s impossible to see how each dot shapes it day-to-day, week-to-week, often even year-to-year. Unlike other things we feel guilty about, you can’t just go back to the café, pay the bill you forgot, and reset the karma balance to zero. Because there’s always more work.
And so it may feel like focusing for one hour in the evening makes up for a bad day, but who wants to spend their entire life salvaging leftover scraps of time? That’s a surefire recipe for unhappiness. The solution lies on a higher level.
Who’s to say it was a bad day in the first place? Maybe you needed rest. Maybe you were affected by something in your subconscious. Why can’t we suspend that judgment altogether? Jim Carrey has a great metaphor for our moods:
“I have sadness and joy and elation and satisfaction and gratitude beyond belief, but all of it is weather. And it just spins around the planet.”
Shame, guilt, regret, these are also just weather phenomena. External conditions that’ll sometimes swing by your planet.
Of course, it’s hard to constantly practice this non-judgment in advance. To go into each experience without attachment or expectation. We’re human, after all. We fail. We let things get to us. And so we need to learn to pick ourselves back up. To realize when we’re complaining about the weather and stop.