In a world where botox and plastic surgery are so easily on offer, I sometimes wonder why we can’t just be the way we are. Who tells us that we need all these things to look beautiful? Who tells us that our nose is not ‘perfect’? What is a perfect nose anyway? And does fixing our nose or other parts of our body make us feel happier about ourselves? Perhaps once our nose is ‘perfect’, we might need a matching ‘perfect’ mouth!
Living in India, it’s not uncommon for me to be asked, “How many children do you have?” and when I answer that I have none, I don’t know whether to laugh or yell when people commiserate me. Who says that having children makes every woman’s life perfect?
I remember questions being asked when I was single until my forties. “When will give us some good news?” (a standard idiotic question in India to be interpreted as ‘when are you getting married?’ or ‘when are you having a baby?’). I’d love to respond with, “I can give you good news right now. I’m enjoying my work and am fine being single.” And they’d respond with a smirk which said”As if!” Who says that having a partner makes one’s life complete?
But beyond all these are the times when we allow our notions of perfection to stop us from being happy.
We set goals, create bucket lists and make promises to ourselves. All that is fine. It keeps us dreaming. It keeps us focussed. Sometimes, these very things can keep us from being happy. Why? When we fail at achieving them, or can’t keep up with our goals, we start to beat ourselves up, calling ourselves names, labelling ourselves ‘stupid’, ‘useless’ and ‘losers’.
We cannot be happy until we accept that we are imperfect. It’s as simple as that.
Happiness is a direct result of self-acceptance. Ask me, I know. And what is self-acceptance if not compassion towards oneself.
As Brené Brown says so eloquently “….. living is about engaging with our lives from a place of worthiness. It means cultivating the courage, compassion and connection to wake up in the morning and think, ‘No matter what gets done and how much is left undone, I am enough.’ It’s going to bed at night thinking, ‘Yes, I am imperfect and vulnerable and sometimes afraid, but that doesn’t change the truth that I am also brave and worthy of love and belonging.”
I love this story and must share it with you today.
In the perfume shop show window was a large jar of freckle salve, and beside the jar was a sign, which read: Do you suffer from freckles?
“What does the sign say?” ask Pippi Longstocking. She couldn’t read very well because she didn’t want to go to school as other children did.
“It says, ‘Do you suffer from freckles?'” said Annika.
“Does it indeed?” said Pippi thoughtfully. “Well, a civil question deserves a civil answer. Let’s go in.”
She opened the door and entered the shop, closely followed by Tommy and Annika. An elderly lady stood back of the counter. Pippi went right up to her. “No!” she said decidedly.
“What is it you want?” asked the lady.
“No,” said Pippi once more.
“I don’t understand what you mean,” said the lady.
“No, I don’t suffer from freckles,” said Pippi. Then the lady understood, but she took one look at Pippi and burst out, “But, my dear child, your whole face is covered with freckles!”
“I know it,” said Pippi, “but I don’t suffer from them. I love them. Good morning.”
She turned to leave, but when she got to the door she looked back and cried, “But if you should happen to get in any salve that gives people more freckles, then you can send me seven or eight jars.”
(Pippi Goes on Board (Pippi Longstocking) by Astrid Lindgren)
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March 20 is celebrated as World Happiness Day. Find out more and download Happiness Resources from the Action For Happiness website. The #1000Speak effort for this month is looking at the connection between happiness and compassion. Check out more posts on the linky.
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