Imperfect Gratitude

I’ll be the first to admit, gratitude wasn’t the most original choice for our November focus. In the United States, it seems like everyone jumps on the gratitude bandwagon this month. While it’s wonderful to hear about everyone’s thankfulness on Facebook and Twitter, it leaves me wondering if our proclamations of gratitude really lead to an increase in positive actions.

I’m thankful for my family and friends, but I still don’t call or Skype very often. I’m thankful for my kids, but I’m letting them play on the iPad while I write. I’m thankful for my health, but I still end up complaining about the sore throat and back ache that I haven’t been able shake this fall. My twisted logic being that if I was really a grateful person, I’d call my mom every day, read with my kids constantly, and never complain about anything.

I’ve taken an exercise that was meant to create more feelings of love and joy, and turned it into a perfectionist’s classic conundrum – if I’m not perfectly grateful, I’ve failed. So here’s the twist on this month’s gratitude focus, for me: showing gratitude even if it’s imperfect. Just writing that sentence kind of makes my skin crawl. Why would I want to settle for imperfection? Wouldn’t that be like celebrating mediocrity? Settling for life as it is, rather than striving to improve? 

The answer is simple. Perfectionism, in any pursuit, isn’t a life improvement. This is probably an obvious statement for most, but no matter how many times I think I’ve ‘conquered’ this flawed belief system it insinuates itself back into my life, the flesh-eating zombie that just won’t stay buried .  Hmmm… What in the world would defeat the perfection zombie? I’m not up on the latest zombie killing techniques, but I know that if you can destroy its brain you’re pretty much home free. So I’m thinking that some metaphorical perfection-brain-destruction is where it’s at.  This doesn’t mean that I’m going to set out to kill my spare brain cells on a binge of weed and liquor (but I’d sure be imperfect after that…), more that I’ll just work on accepting and loving imperfection, in my self and others.

So maybe I don’t call my family as often as I could, but I’m thinking of them with love and gratitude. And I do spend a lot of time tuned into my kids – it’s okay that I’m not at 100%; in the long and short run they benefit from a mom who is on her own creative journey. As for my tweaked back and froggy voice, I’m actually grateful for imperfect health – it’s a huge reminder that I need to slow down and take better care of myself.

What imperfections are you grateful for?

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3 thoughts on “Imperfect Gratitude

  1. How perfect that you chose this subject.

    Yesterday, I listened to http://onpoint.wbur.org/2012/11/01/perfectionism while nursing an uncomfortable flu bug. I love having found a silver lining to my dark cloud. I’ve been thinking about the show since and appreciate the food for thought.

    We recently watched:
    https://movies.netflix.com/WiMovie/The_Wavy_Gravy_Movie_Saint_Misbehavin/70114981?trkid=438403 (Wavy Gravy of “bozos on the bus” fame.) I’m grateful to have seen the film and for Wavy’s imperfections as he overcomes huge personal and political obstacles to live and teach others his generous philosophy.

    There is a big difference between striving for excellence (and helping our kids do so) and striving for perfection. I like that distinction.

    As for not calling your Mother, that’s another story….:)

  2. This is a tough question! I’m grateful for being an imperfect mother. I had many grand plans for my daughter’s recent birthday, but many of those plans weren’t realized. I did throw some “things” together, at the last minute, and those were special touches that didn’t require lots of time or money. So, I’m grateful for the way I come up with last minute ideas, when a holiday or celebration approaches–many times those ideas are better than the ones I envisioned.

    A great way to reframe your health, Elise : “it’s a huge reminder that I need to slow down and take better care of myself.” Do take care of yourself–Hugs to you!

  3. Imperfections are the cracks that let the light in. I’m grateful for all of the light that fills my world. And that light is the source of my happiness.

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