Chapter Three: Life“What is the meaning of life? To be happy and useful.” - Tenzin Gyatso, 14th Dalai Lama
Firstly, let’s talk about stress. Expectations obviously give stress. It is so for every single situation, whether applied to oneself or to another individual, the one who is at the receiving end will most definitely have a burden imposed on them.
However, if the expectations are on life, it is difficult to say that the one who is expecting will not become disadvantaged because of this. In fact, it could easily be said that expecting too much out of life will only create stress for the person who is doing the expecting.
Since it seems to getting rather confusing, let’s elaborate this point with a story shall we?
Rhea was a perfectionist. Everything in her life had to be picture perfect; otherwise it was not good enough. This of course, included her life. It wasn’t that she had obsessive-compulsive disorder or any mental disorders of that sort. No, that would have been much easier to cure. The problem came from her dissatisfaction with everything around her, yearning for all to become her ideal, which meant flawless.
And yet, not everything could be flawless; especially not life. One could dream and wish all about a perfect life but that would come to nothing in the end. After all, as long as one interacted with imperfect beings, there was no way that a perfect or ideal life could be achieved. And those imperfect beings were humans.
With her perfectionist attitude, Rhea found this to be unacceptable, although there wasn’t much she could do about it. Still a student, her grades were one of the best in school, mostly because she studied so much that the knowledge overflowed from her brains. If she couldn’t perfect something, she wouldn’t do it. That was her motto. But that was also a serious issue. There were many times when she would refuse to do anything unless she could get it to perfection. And only then would she relent. Her determination, and arrogance, was astounding.
However, it is not always beneficial to push yourself beyond your limits, as Rhea would soon figure out.
There came a day when Rhea realized that although everything seemed perfect, life wasn’t. There were troubles all around her and with that, she resolved to perfect life. Doing everything until it was perfect, Rhea made sure that nothing was left out, that if there was anything that could cause problems, it would be ignored. Rhea then realized that ignoring the problems caused more problems, which in turn caused even more problems.
At some point then, Rhea somewhat snapped. She tried to push herself beyond her limits, making sure that everything around her was just the way she wanted it. Her friends had to be perfect, so she made sure that whatever they did, they were perfect; and all her former friends left her. Her work had to be perfect, so she spent hours trying to fix every single piece of work; and as time passed, her work continued to pile until she was fired for her inefficiency. Her appearance had to be perfect, so she wasted thousands on plastic surgery; and she was constantly in debt. Day and night without sleep finally caused Rhea’s body to collapse under the intense fatigue. She was quickly admitted into the hospital by her family, who had been there when she dropped to the ground.
Unfortunately for Rhea, her body couldn’t take the intensity of the stress and burned itself out on the way there; and the irony for Rhea was that, because she sought perfection, she lost it all.
You see, when we yearn for something in life too much, we often neglect the fact that we are not only harming ourselves but also the ones around us. Great deals of stress overcome us when we search for something that often cannot be fulfilled.
If Rhea had given up on her conquest of perfection and seen the good in all around her, perhaps it would have been easier on her mentality and her body. She didn’t of course, but would you think that if we follow the same path, that we can pluck ourselves out easily? Think about it.
Questions to ponder:
Does everything have to be perfect for you?
Do you expect life to go your way?
Can you make compromises to your plans if they seem unreachable?