My husband Alex wakes up before me everyday at 5:30 a.m., checks his movement-sensitive phone app that monitors how well he has slept and then begins his Miracle Morning; he does visioning, meditates, exercises, reads, and journals all before breakfast. Then he makes himself a Bulletproof coffee laced with butter and drinks a soy protein shake that engineers designed for maximum sustenance for the lowest cost. He logs his push ups on his spreadsheet competition he initiated with a dozen friends, puts on his oura ring to monitor his heart rate and respiration rate, and is out the door. He fits in his new hobby, jiu jitsu, on his way home from work. After dinner he grabs Deepak's book, Super Genes, and announces with a twinkle in his eye, "I'm going to rest and let my pizza digest while I read the best way to optimize my gastrointestinal tract." I am not making this up.
He has these bursts of inspiration for self betterment that come from reading and research that he immediately puts into action in a forward moving, efficiency-focused way. He invites me to join him every time. For Christmas Alex got us matching Self Journals to help make our goals a reality by planning every minute of every day, and tracking our lessons learned, gratitude, and daily big wins. You can put money on whose journal will get more use this year. Our fast paced, achievement oriented culture suggests that efficiency is a survival skill. When I watch my husband, I see that for him, it's much more than that. It's huge source of joy, fulfillment and flow.
I'm very different from Alex. My focus tends to happen in the space between my head and my heart in a more circular motion. I am always seeking new insights, a wiser perspective, a healthier relationship, a more conscious way of communicating, mindfulness practices to more fully drop into the present. And most importantly, I am trying to fully love my imperfect self.
It's a fine line -- acknowledging the parts of yourself that you want to work on, without activating your unhelpful self critic. As a recovering perfectionist, I know my most important task is not to focus on future greatness, but to find the greatness within me today. This will ultimately pave my way forward. Alex has no interest in being perfect. It's beautiful to watch him tinker with his life like a playful grand experiment -- always testing but never needing to claim success or failure. His "desire to grow" philosophy has no room for perfection.
We inspire each other differently. His future-focused Yang energy of direct forward movement meets my Yin contemplative swirl, creating a lovely cadence in our lives. When Alex starts to slip into longing for something out there he can't even define, I ground him in our rich present experience. When I start to feel stagnant or unsure of my footing, he teaches me how to take bigger strides with ease and confidence.
We all sway in this lovely dance between future and present tense; between images of our present and future self. I invite you to observe more keenly your natural habits of thought. Notice how they direct your focus into the present moment or catapult you into the future. Which tense brings you joy? Discomfort? Peace? Curiosity? Which tense needs a little more of your attention?
In English grammar, perfect tense is a way of expressing an action that begins in one tense and ends in another. For example: we will have lived a noble life. I think it's ironic that present perfect is one of the most difficult tenses to learn. In life there isn't really a "perfect" in any tense. By consciously watching your shifts between the past, present, and future, you can approach all parts of your life with compassion and allow for the wonderfully imperfect nature of life.