The Plateau to Enlightenment.

Via Jennifer S. White
on Aug 22, 2013
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Sometimes the road to self-betterment stalls, and you’re left with a slightly uneasy feeling.

I’ve always been the sort of person who tries to improve myself.

I put effort into practicing both kindness and honesty.

I’ve spent a long time working on my natural inclinations towards worry and being quick to anger (and my subsequently sharp tongue).

Yet, the thing is, sometimes we just are the way that we are—and that’s when we need to work on acceptance.

Because we can’t always change everything about ourselves, even when we desperately want to and even when we desperately try.

Trust me when I say that I’m much more patient now than I used to be, though I’m still the kind of person who easily jumps to both conclusions and action, and that there are also moments when these qualities have worked for me.

Because that’s another thing: more often than not our personality traits can be viewed as a coin with two sides.

One is generally more positive, socially acceptable and internally easier to welcome, and the other is rougher, courser and, perhaps, less desirable to either ourselves or to those around us.

Today, for example, I felt ho-hum.

You know, one of those grey days where the sky drips a few tears and so does my ceaselessly imperfect heart.

I try so hard to be the person who I know that I truly am, and I still feel that I come up short—quite a bit short, actually.

And on these types of days, the world isn’t my oyster. It isn’t my playground or my jovial stage to share jokes and make my friends and family laugh.

Rather, it’s a cold and harsh place that I’m forced to inhabit and then unwillingly call home and I feel like I fit nowhere.

So on days like these, when my fragile chest feels like it’s filled with pointy grains of sand that serve no better purpose than to weigh me down, and my mind has a few too many cobwebs, I can’t help but wonder why on those other more positive and profound days I care so much about making myself a better person in the first place.

Still, I can’t help it.

There’s something in the core of my being that honestly believes that we’re here to learn, to think and to grow, both from our experiences and from our obstacles.

After all, life’s challenges are often what force us to evolve, and to become better—it’s these days where the sun stays behind clouds that usually offer hidden lessons, and hidden spots of sunshine that wind up peeking out eventually anyways.

And I guess I’m not even sure if most people are like this.

I’ve definitely met people who don’t appear to be working an awful lot on their social consciences, much less making their way down the path of more a meaningful, and less tangible, growth (call it enlightenment if you want).

And at the same time, on gloomier days, I’m reminded that sometimes self-betterment and self-growth resemble more of a plateau than a world-record mountain climbing expedition—because we need to include acceptance and love for the people who we are in this moment, right now, along with our efforts of improvement.

 If we don’t give ourselves permission to make mistakes while still maintaining a sense of tenderness, then how can we possibly extend that kindness and love that we’re seeking back out into the world? 

I think it’s true that you need to love yourself before you can fully love another.

So, unfortunately, my little temper might be larger than I’d like it to be, and my patience might wear thin a tiny bit too easily for my satisfaction, but I’m also passionate and hard-working—it’s the flip-side of that coin.

And I like me.

I like who I am, even on days like today when I’m sitting in my bed writing with a face that’s a touch too serious and stoic.

I like myself enough to remember that stopping to smell the roses is part of this road that I’m on—the one that leads to my higher self—because if we don’t periodically pause and enjoy the view, then we’re missing much more of the point than we realize.

 “Knowing others is wisdom, knowing yourself is enlightenment.” ~ Lao Tzu

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Ed: Bryonie Wise


About Jennifer S. White

Jennifer S. White is a voracious reader, obsessive writer, passionate yoga instructor and drinker of hoppy ales. She’s also a devoted mama and wife (a stay-at-home yogi). She considers herself to be one of the funniest people who ever lived and she’s also an identical twin. In addition to her work on elephant journal, Jennifer has over 40 articles published on the wellness website MindBodyGreen and her yoga-themed column Your Personal Yogi ran in the newspaper Toledo Free Press. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in geology, absolutely no degrees in anything related to literature, and she currently owns a wheel of cheese. If you want to learn more about Jennifer, make sure to check out her writing, as she’s finally put her tendencies to over-think and over-share to good use. Jennifer is the author of The Best Day of Your Life, available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble. She's also as excited as a five year old to announce the release of her second book, The Art of Parenting: Love Letters from a Mother, available on Amazon.


7 Responses to “The Plateau to Enlightenment.”

  1. Jessica says:

    Wonderfully written! Yes others are like this too. Thank you. Namaste.

  2. Thanks, Jessica. Namaste.

  3. Amanda says:

    Love your articles. Do you teach in Ohio? I am a fellow Ohioan in the Canton area.

  4. Thanks, Amanda. I'm near Akron 🙂

  5. Lynn says:

    I definitely get what you are saying:) life is a journey, and the goal is ultimately to reach self-acutualization. Whether we get there or not is up to us. Loved your blog. Keep up the good work:)

  6. sunfish says:

    Thanks for sharing Jennifer. Yea, those points about "desperately wanting and desperately trying" are just the energies that create resistance. Sometimes i make progress, and sometimes it is good to experience that desperation and forcing just to learn what works and doesn't. maybe that's the yin-yang thing?
    Acceptance is one possibility ( usually happens right after desperately seeking susan) but there is also gentle nudging. I use this in yoga, and whenever i can remember through out the day, by setting an intention and and holding it gently through the session and through the day. kind of like tying a string on your finger.
    And then as you mention, sometimes there are unexpected events that demand us to respond- when there has been a period of persistent gentle effort/intention, those moments can sort of leap-frog us in the direction we have been seeking. Sort of like "luck, is when preparation meets opportunity." magic, transformative moments! 🙂 Love E