The Quest for Perfection
I love peaches, beautiful juicy, sweet peaches. I remember one year in my early 20’s, I had recently moved out of home and was doing my grocery shopping. I took my time in the fresh food section of the grocery store trying to choose the perfect peach. It was beautiful – no blemishes or marks from insects, and just the right softness and size, however, when I bit into it, it was all wrong. It was not the delicious, juicy piece of fruit that I had hoped for. It had no flavour and the texture was not right.
My father is a farmer, and so when I next saw him I asked him how such a perfect-looking piece of fruit on the outside could so miss the mark on the inside (I told you I love peaches!). He explained that, as well as being sprayed with who-knows-how-many artificial fertilisers and pesticides to get it to market looking perfect, the fruit had probably been chilled, close to freezing. That means it lasts longer and can meet the year-round demand from consumers for seasonal fruit.
That day I was reminded of one of life’s truths - “What something looks like on the outside isn’t necessarily a reflection of what is on the inside.” The same principle applies in life.
We look at someone who appears to have the shiny, perfect life – ‘The Joneses’. They might have a newer car than us, a nicer home (in the right neighbourhood), new clothes every week (let alone every season) and regular lavish holidays. We want it all too. Now! But little do we know the more often than not ‘The Joneses’ are living with huge financial stress.
Now don’t get me wrong. I am not saying that there is something wrong with wanting nice things and that everyone who has a ‘shiny’ life is faking it – some people really do have amazing, blessed lives but trust me they worked hard to get them and continue to work hard to keep them. Money and things are amoral – neither good nor bad and the pursuit of nice things is normal and understandable. The problem comes when we pursue it at all cost, when maybe all we can afford is ‘Kmart’ but we are shopping at ‘Saks’ and in the process possibly causing harm to ourselves and our relationships.
So, what is it that drives us to want perfection, or at least the appearance of perfection? Why do we want what “she’s having”? Why are we so often prepared to do whatever it takes to ‘supersize’ or upgrade our lives and possessions, without thinking about what this ‘fast-money’, instant gratification culture is doing to our soul and to our future?
If this speaks to you, can I encourage you that the first step is realising what is driving your behaviour and owning it.
Step 2: is to talk to someone you trust and respect, who has mastered this area of their life, so that they can be an encouragement and strength for you in this area. It may be your partner, a friend, a family member, or someone at work who you see displaying wisdom in how they handle money.
Step 3: is to stop the comparisons. I truly believe that comparison is the single biggest stealer of joy and our contentment in who we are and what we have. We are all meant to run our own race and it is about doing that to the best of our ability.
And that leads us to our final step – pursue the things you are passionate about, or as I like to refer to it, do what makes your ‘soul sing’ (corny I know). While comparisons will steal your joy, using your unique gifts and talents to do what makes you truly happy leads to real inner contentment. If you haven’t quite worked out what these things are yet, take some time and work out how you “take your eggs” (for all those old enough to get a Run Away Bride reference) and discover what it is you really like and enjoy doing.
It’s about forgetting about appearances, pursuing contentment and happiness rather than stuff, and realising we will get there when it’s our time and its okay for us to not be there yet.
Thanks to Karen Gullo from Brandon & Gullo Lawyers for allowing us to publish this article on their behalf.