Where does that leave you? What does it mean? And why does it screw you over?
I had a pretty interesting revelation tonight while doing the dishes.
Why does so much profundity occur during household chores?
In the process of feeling pressured to finish dishes, clean the kitchen, and start cooking dinner, I blamed myself for not starting earlier. Feeling more motivated. Enjoying the domestic bliss of scraping dried rice casserole off dinner plates.
Then I realized: What if I had started a half hour earlier? Would I truly be satisfied? Or would I be berating myself for something equally tiny, just a little bit earlier in the past?
Then it dawned on me, full blown, like one of those flower opening in fast motion videos:
We can always do better. Try harder. Be smarter. Learn more. Work faster.
There is no limit to our capacity for self-improvement and, therefore, no limit to our ability to second-guess and judge ourselves for not being better.
If we can always be better, then we can always be dissatisfied with our current self.
Or, we can be kind to ourselves. Be happy with where we are at in the present. Be thankful we got off the couch to do dishes in the first place. Be sure duper happy there's enough mozzarella to make pizza tonight (with extra crispy pepperoni, yum).
Being happy in the moment is the core tenant of pretty much every spiritual teaching, but it didn't hit me until tonight how it is so very easy to push ourselves past the moment-happy into the can-be-better.
There's no day when we'll wake up, look around, and say, "Welp, I've done it all. I'm totally blissed out with me, myself and I. It's all complete."
Therefore, if life itself is nothing but a constant form of self-improvement, we totally absolutely 100% have permission to be happy now. Because we'll still be trying really hard tomorrow. Dirty dishes or no.