[center]You write a lot about self-realization and noticing thoughts and feelings. Well I’ve noticed that I almost always have this persistent feeling that I’m not doing enough, ever. I went to a good college and grad school, have a good job in the business world, and make a good living. Yet I still have this feeling like I’m a failure. Even on my downtime I feel like I should be working out or cleaning my apt or even looking for higher paying jobs. I feel so stressed by this pattern. What is going on? Any insights? [/center]
Dear Reader, we’d like to share a little something with you. After we published our book Smitten, both of us sank into deep depression. Yep. We had just accomplished something so big. We overcame the crazy challenge of actually writing the thing (which took five years) and then endured multiple rejections by agents and publishers before it was finally published. One would imagine we’d be elated upon seeing it on a bookstore shelf! But the reality was we were just bummed out. We couldn’t feel our success. The joy of our accomplishment didn’t sink in. It was a sad and confusing couple of months.
In retrospect we realize what stopped us from feeling the pleasure of our accomplishment was our inflated expectations. We expected it to be a bestseller immediately. Ambition and high standards are beautiful things but they can also suck the joy out of life if gone unchecked. We didn’t appreciate the validation we earned because we made the mistake of believing that anything but immediate bestseller status wasn’t enough.
Our society does not help in this department. We’re told from every which way that in order to be worth something we must achieve, achieve, achieve! Get great grades or you’ll be a failure. Invent a new app and make millions, or you basically suck. Maintain a fat-free body, or you ain’t worth shit. Improve, succeed, work, triumph! These are the principles that built America. Of course they are valuable, but what’s missing is balance—pleasure, nurturing, rest and the ability to enjoy the process regardless of the result. The truth is, when we look back on the experience of writing Smitten—the late night phone calls, the random “work vacations”, laughing our asses off recounting hilarious flirting stories—we are deeply fulfilled. And now that we are in this new phase of conversation with the world through our blog and public events, we continue to find a whole new dimension of fulfillment. It’s not about money or status. It’s about connecting with humanity.
So we ask that you sit with yourself and get clear about what truly enriches you. What do you actually value and are you living your life in accordance with those values? Is money your barometer, or is it creativity? Does your body fat percentage dictate your worth or the times you’ve sat up all night counseling a friend through a bad breakup? What actually matters to you? What makes you feel connected, engaged and meaningful? Forget what you’ve been told by the world and ask yourself what genuinely gives you a deep feeling of inner wealth.
Then write a mission statement for your life emphasizing these genuine personal values. Living by your mission statement is your new standard for success. You will always have to go to work, clean your house and keep your body healthy. Those are facts of life. But they are no longer your bottom line. You no longer expect them to give you those satisfied feelings. With a new, upgraded mission, you shift from thinking about results that “should” make you feel “successful,” to the things that DO make you successful—make you thrive on the inside. We bet that living in harmony with your true mission will not only be simpler and more natural, but will also provide the psychic and emotional peace you’re looking for.