Today’s better person principle is that there’s a time and place for everything, and that includes a time to NOT be focused on being a better person.
That’s right: You don’t have to be a better person ALL the time. And thank goodness for that.
You’re reading the transcript of an episode of the How to Be a Better Person podcast. If you’d rather listen, click the play button below.
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There’s a time and place to enforce a boundary. And there’s a time and place to do something that perhaps you’re not thrilled about because it’s better to just be of service. There’s a time to take your natural remedies and a time to get your butt to the doctor. A time and place to eat healthy and a time to indulge.
I think a good ratio to aim for is 80/20
80 percent of the time, you know, you give a shit, you’re actively trying to do the right thing most of the time, you’re intentional, you’re aware. And 20 percent, you ease up on trying. Eat the bag of chips for dinner. Put off having the effortful conversation. Hide out in the basement watching your favorite show. Let the laundry pile up. Just ease up on any effort you might otherwise exert toward being better.
Maybe there’s a different ratio that feels better to you. 90/10. Or 70/30. Remember, being better is relative to you. It’s personal.
But I do know that trying to do anything 100% of the time is a recipe for burnout. Temporarily stepping away from something that’s important to you helps you value it all the more, the way taking a solo trip to attend a conference or visit friends would get me jazzed about family life again when I returned. Not only that, but it gives you time to integrate the changes you’ve been trying to make so that they become more innate.
I’ve got an embarrassing story that demonstrates this idea perfectly
When I walked in to my first yoga class when I was 25 years old I could hardly touch my toes. When I saw the other people in my class plunk their head down on the floor and come into a headstand in the middle of the room I was like, you can do that?! I really wanted to be able to do a headstand in the worst way. I tried and tried for months before until I finally came up at the wall.
Then after about a year of doing it at the wall, I started trying to back away from it, moving my mat a couple inches further away from the wall each class. I was wobbly as all get out but I was also determined. Until, one yoga class at the Equinox on 19th and Broadway in New York city, I backed about a foot away from the mirrored wall and came up, only to fall out of headstand. I was fine, but my butt hit that mirrored wall and cracked it in a huge way. It was so embarrassing!! After that, I was too scared to try headstand for a couple months.
I finally decided to try it again on my own in my living room, with my couch cushions all around me. I figured since I hadn’t done headstand in so long it would never work; but then my legs flew up like my feet were filled with helium. I couldn’t believe it. It was a huge eye opener that sometimes you make progress by NOT doing the thing you’re trying to do.
The takeaway is: Sometimes, you’ve got to not try. And in those periods of rest, your efforts have a chance to settle into your cells.
Daily Tiny Assignment
Your tiny assignment is to ask yourself what is it the time and place for at this particular moment in my life? Do I need to get back to doing the things that make you feel like a better person? Or do I maybe need to ease up for a short period of time so that I can integrate and recalibrate?
I hope you’ll come back tomorrow for the final better person principle, which is that being better is ultimately a choice.