Recently, a yoga instructor encouraged us to “not settle for the first position your body gives you.” It’s good advice to stretch yourself – figuratively and literally – a little more, hold a pose a few seconds beyond what is comfortable, and to be mindful of your position, posture and breathing. By not settling for what is comfortable and “good enough,” you gradually improve your yoga practice and become stronger and more flexible, and positions that were too advanced and too hard can become possible.
Her admonition has stuck with me this week, as I look back at last year and look ahead to the next one. There were days when “good enough” seemed to be all I had to give. But if I’m honest with myself, some days I settled for good enough when I knew I could do more. So instead of making specific resolutions this year, I think I might apply this concept to more areas of my life: don’t settle for good enough. That doesn’t mean demanding more from others, but to stretch myself:
To be a little more grace-filled, graceful and gracious to others, even when they don’t deserve it. (Even when I don’t feel particularly full of grace.)
To give a little bit more of myself than the task requires. Even when I’ve already gone above and beyond – give just a tiny bit more, especially when it will make a difference. And even when it won’t be noticed or appreciated by anyone else. I will know that I gave my best.
To remain more conscious of my inner attitude and the demeanor I reflect to the world. To look up and out past myself, smile more at strangers and laugh more, listen more, and love more with friends and family.
I can’t change the world.
I can’t demand change from anyone else.
I can’t end poverty, hatred, envy and strife.
But if I change me, by requiring just a little more than “good enough,” it’s possible to make a difference. Just as a single, nearly weightless leaf can land on still water and make ripples larger than itself, I can – perhaps – gently change my world, by refusing to settle. Even one tiny candle in a dark room can provide welcome light to everyone in its vicinity. But only if it’s willing to give up some of itself in order to burn brightly.
What will you do with 2014? It is a one-time gift and we will only have it for 8,760 hours. May this be one year we can all look back and say we are leaving it better than we started it.