February 22, 2024

Why “Good Enough” is often as Good as it Gets (& Trying to be Perfect usually Ends in Tears).

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Recently, I’ve been feeling more connected with the “spirit of life.”

It’s an experience that is really different from my usual sense of individuality and separateness, and brings me a peace and happiness I’ve not had before. It’s also an experience I would like more people to know about because I believe it’s the best way to help peace and love prevail in the world.

I most often have this feeling of spiritual belonging, which I call “vertical,” when I’m in nature, playing music, or making love. But I can’t stay in that rarified space for long without succumbing to the drives and needs of the “horizontal” physical world. That’s why I believe that my, and everyone else’s, best hope for happiness is in finding a “diagonal” balance between the spiritual and material realms, and in appreciating the humour and humility that comes with accepting that balance.

This diagonal approach to life is not meant to be a compromise; it’s more about feeling “good enough” in a way that recognizes our human reality as spiritual beings who are at the same time innately down-to-earth in a particularly literal way.

Our physical need for food and shelter must be met before we can think about finding support, love, and emotional security, as well as more spiritual concerns. We must have food in our bellies before we can be ready and able to look for, and accept, food for our souls. In practice, this means for me that if it is to feel sincere, my spiritual development must be aligned with some level of practical work which improves the world.

Human beings live by creating and following a life story that ties together what we feel and experience. We give meaning to our actions and our identities by interpreting what our senses receive and then sharing these meanings with art, philosophy, and other such pastimes. It’s an area where we do have some degree of choice, because we are free to create or adopt a story which has the best fit with our own experiences and values. Some people are drawn to follow a “big picture” story—the kind provided by organized religion—but I think it’s fine to believe anything you like if it helps you feel more happy, kind, and productive, and causes no harm.

Everything we believe may not be any more intrinsically true than its opposite, and so the usefulness of any belief is the extent to which it enables people to manifest more joy and kindness. I think this is more likely to result from choosing a flexible balance between different perspectives than from a place of rigid “certainty,” which leaves us susceptible to being manipulated. It’s easy to see the damage done by the fake gurus who claim to have “the answer” and by true believers who are happy to let someone else provide that for them rather than think it through for themselves.

I’m convinced that the key to happiness lies in stepping outside our own limited point of view so that we at least “know what we don’t know.” The diagonal approach to life is a foundation for compassion because it reflects the way the real world operates—as the result of interactions between sometimes contradictory forces—and sidesteps any idea of perfection against which most of us would be judged as falling short.

Like tightrope walkers, the best we can do is try to find the point of balance in our lives between different but equally valid viewpoints, so that we can become weightless and free in our thinking, acting, and loving.


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