As a recovering perfectionist, I am often trying to shift my focus from looking for what’s wrong in life (and in need of immediate correction) to what is right: those things that are going well, the beauty that is around me, my health, my family, and so forth.
For those who are naturally optimistic, this may appear to be a desirable, simple shift, but for others, like me, who are prone to fret over even the smallest imperfections in daily life (your child’s toys on the table, your inability to button those pants, the emails you must return and the deadlines you must meet no mater what), looking for the good means shirking responsibility and abandoning control. Before long there are visions of a house in shambles with two DCFS agents pounding on the door as the boss calls non-stop demanding that project that was due over a week ago.
In truth, perfectionism becomes a way to guard oneself against the uncertainties and messiness of daily life, and looking for the weeds rather than the flowers keeps us constantly fixing in an attempt to be forever prepared and immune from pain.
But by always living on the defensive we lose the ability to see the good in ourselves and in others, much less appreciate the blessings that abound. Sometimes the flowers are daisies: think about how you seem to always have coffee on hand, or how you can take a hot shower every morning. Others are bursting sunflowers: getting that job you always wanted, living in the home in you only dreamed of, marrying the person who adores you and makes you laugh, raising a child who depends on and loves you beyond measure. From the daily meeting of our basic needs to the abundant gifts of life that border on the miraculous, we are always walking through a garden, and although the harsh weeds have a habit of tripping us when we least expect it, we never cease to be surrounded by more flowers than thorns.
So today I choose to shift my focus away from the weeds and to the flowers. Sure, I may have a messy living room, but I also have a beautiful child to play in it. I may have a few extra pounds here and there, but I have a pantry full of food and a body full of energy and robust health. I may have more to do than I can accomplish, but my overflowing inbox reminds me that I am needed in this world, I am part of this world, and, God willing, I will be blessed with tomorrow to continue to meet the demands of today.
Note: Many thanks to Hands Free Mama Rachel Macy Stafford for the phrase “looking at the flowers instead of the weeds.”