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Redefining the phrase ‘Do Your Best’ – Part 1

“God gives us the ingredients for our daily bread, but he expects us to do the baking.”

–    Chip Ingram (American Christian pastor, author, and orator)

When you casually wish a friend all the best, you may be unaware of the stress you are causing him. If he has set high, unrealistic standards for himself, probably he needs to give in a little less than what he’s psyching himself to.

I read and write daily. I also have a weekly quota for the same. If I am tired one week, or some urgent issues occupy me, it’s likely I may not reach my target; and then I’d catch myself feeling inadequate. Ironical as it may sound, we often feel sad after giving our best at that moment. If your standard is to write five hundred words daily, and one day when a splitting headache bothered you and you managed only three hundred, how’d you feel? You need to congratulate yourself on your excellent effort on this day but do you feel irritated that you failed to achieve the goal? Most inspirational teachers and motivational speakers goad us to offer our best but what about the emotional pressure that builds up inside when you fail? We all have an ideal that we either strive to achieve or maintain. Whenever we think of giving our best, we connect to our predetermined standard as the reference point. And that could bring pain to our hearts as well.

The ‘Now’ factor

Some spiritual practitioners feel discouraged by their inability to attain or sustain a divine state of consciousness. At such times one of Don Miguel Ruiz’s Four Agreements – ‘Do your best,’ could come to your rescue.  We tend to wrongly imagine that doing our best means you need to have a high benchmark and gear yourself to attain that state. Instead, Ruiz proposes, based on ancient Toltec wisdom, your best now is different from yesterday and tomorrow. You could write five thousand words yesterday or ten thousand tomorrow, but if you are sick today, maybe fifty is your best offering. Since every day is different, our ‘best’ could also vary each day.

I have realized that by choosing to compare your fifty today with your glorious past or ambitious future, you only make your present a nerve-racking existence. Another irony of our lives: we fear admonishment from others but ignore the severe critic inside our own heads. Why do you believe the abusive rant of your mind that’s never satisfied with your best offering? Instead, let’s choose to accept whatever comes each day and meet that situation with our best self of that moment.

To be continued…

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