If we only live for the highs of life, we will be living low the majority of the time.
I learned this the hard way.
I made a list of the things that I have accomplished in my life. It included all that I consider being my highs so far – completing my schooling with honors, winning a provincial acting trophy in high school, becoming a mother, having the very 1st short story I ever submitted published in a literary magazine, becoming financially independent, achieving a Black Belt in Taekwondo at age 42, recording 2 EP’s of my original music, self-publishing my first book, finding a traditional publisher for my 2nd book…winning speech contests with Toastmasters…but these were like creating a highlight reel.
They don’t show how many hours of passion, energy, blood, sweat, and tears went into creating just one of these highlights. I realized that if I only appreciated the larger accomplishments, by default I was not appreciating the lesser accomplishments – the progress I made while I had my eyes on the prize…while the prize was still on the horizon.
As Mother Teresa often shared, “Not all of us can do great things, but we can do small things with great love.”
We aren’t asked to make the whole world better, but we can make our world better.
Appreciation is an art form – I describe it in An Elegant Mind’s Handbook as one of the Elegant Arts – the one from which all others spring. If you cannot appreciate the small things, you will not do them with great love. You will do them with great resistance because each step will remind you that you are not there yet.
An elegant mind is always arriving. It means always anticipating and accepting the something colored beautiful moments of life, no matter how small.
The tiny clematis plant you purchased at the garden shop didn’t arrive as a 30ft beauty literally exploding with blooms. It arrived as a small, tender shoot and grew, millimeter by millimeter, leaf by leaf, into the magnificent plant you have enjoyed for years.
I utilize the process of Kaizen – small things done with consistency over time will lead to significant results. Because one small thing expands. Plants are an excellent example of the process of Kaizen.
Want to feel good about yourself? Find one small thing and practice until you do it extremely well. That could take 20 yrs. Or two. As I see it, that’s not the point. What if the point is making the point super simple to achieve…1% better than yesterday?
It’s always the perfect time to begin, or to begin again.
We often describe mastery as being so good at something that it becomes 2nd Nature. But what about 1st Nature? It is important to embrace the nature with which we came to life to express, our 1st Nature.
This is the part of you that understands the value of creative exploration. We all have this within us but we don’t always embrace it. This part realizes that the very next step could be THE step that takes you somewhere EPIC!
Like master teacher Thich Nhat Hanh, simply go for a walk, and pay attention to what you see.
The 1% Better practice is for anyone who is dedicated to continuous improvement, because of what the 1% Better mindset represents…mastery of ourselves.
It’s not enough to master the moves. One must master the master.
We may achieve mastery of a skill (like a writer, musician, or martial artist) but the point is in the delight we feel from its pursuit. That which was created with delight will offer delight as its reward. Delight is what keeps our minds flexible and open and ageless.
What if 1% Better is the key to perpetual youth.? I believe it is!
The masters move among us with ageless elegance, accepting their lows and highs with the enthusiasm of a child at Christmas.
How can this be? Are they insane? Or delusional?
Some Kind of Wonderful…
What Kaizen does is prompt us to delight in the benefits of every little thing. It invites us to understand that there is no small thing when done with the spirit of wonder, that doesn’t create some kind of wonderful. We can consider it practical magic!
It stands to reason that if we only celebrate the big rewards for the notable triumphs in life most people will hold off sharing their small triumphs and hold out for the big payoff. They will save their brilliance and not share the small everyday triumphs that actually contribute to the big reward.
And they will trivialize their small works as they are mundane and do not attract attention.
The key to utilizing Kaizen is to celebrate every small step in the right direction. Each tiny movement of the needle (even a twitch) is a cause for pause, reflection, appreciation, and celebration!
I invite you to consider:
What small, trivial step can I take today that may not make my highlight reel…but will make my day 1% Better?
If you found this post beneficial, please help me spread the love by sharing it!