How do you see your life and the world right now? Is it a horrible wasteland full of despair and misery or is it great and enjoyable? I’m guessing most people would rate their life somewhere between poor and great with a smaller subset of negative people labeling it a complete disaster. Even if you are one of the few people that can outwardly proclaim that their life is great, I think very few of you would describe it as being perfect.
In a recent review of some of my beliefs about life I realized that I hold a belief I doubt many other people have, the belief that my life, as it is right now, is perfect. By perfect I don’t mean that it is excellent or that I am ignoring flaws. By perfect I mean that it is without flaw. Everything in my life at this moment is as perfect as it could be.
After hearing this I think many people might begin to be thinking one of several thoughts. You might think I am completely delusional and that I have lost touch with reality. You could also think that perhaps I am just a very lucky individual who has never experienced any real traumatic and difficult times. In either case most of you are probably really beginning to question why someone who has the time and energy to put together a personal development website and pursue personal development could believe that, in fact, life is already perfect. While I’ll concede that there is a good chance that all of these things are true, I have a very different explanation for my assertion of life’s perfection.
In order to have the somewhat bizarre belief that everything in life is perfect and enjoy the immense satisfaction that this belief endows, you have to understand a few smaller beliefs that support it. Like legs on a chair, these separate realizations hold up the central belief that life, as it is right now, is already perfect.
Everything is Either a Benefit or an Opportunity for Growth
Steven Covey, renown author of The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, listed his very first habit: Be Proactive. Basically, being proactive means that you take responsibility and action in your life rather than just react to circumstances. This belief is really one of the central tenets to pursuing any form of self-improvement.
The habit of being proactive causes you to look in the world in a very different light. By taking complete responsibility for your world you view it through one of two lenses. Either you see something as being a benefit already, or you see it as being an opportunity for you to grow. With a completely proactive mindset, you are never a victim of reality or circumstances.
In some cases these opportunities to grow could be problems with your level of action. Perhaps you are overweight. A proactive person would see this as an excellent opportunity to grow and improve so they will take advantage of this opportunity and start eating healthier and exercising. In this case the challenge you were facing was behavioral.
Other times these opportunities will be in perception. Perhaps a loved one close to you dies unexpectedly. Although this may seem like a cruel twist in reality, this too is an opportunity for growth. Perhaps their death allows you to change your perspective to see how truly beautiful and fragile life really is. Maybe the grief caused by this event will cause you to become more loving to those who are still with you.
It may seem fairly flippant of me to proclaim that losing a loved one is merely an opportunity for growth. Clearly there will be a lot of pain involved and their death may appear to have been senseless. If we have learned anything from studying other people, it is that when used appropriately the most painful circumstances are generally the best opportunities for growth. Growth involves pain, the more pain involved the greater the opportunity, even if it cannot be perceived at the time. This first belief, that everything in your life is either currently a benefit or an opportunity for growth is the first part in the eventual realization that your life is perfect.
A perfect life would not just be filled with benefits because then you could never experience any growth, it would be a stagnant hell. How could you appreciate, respect and truly enjoy a life where there were no opportunities for growth?
Happiness is the Result of Past Pain
Another subset of the belief that life is perfect comes from the realization that happiness is ultimately all a matter of contrast. If you experience extreme pain then it is also possible to experience extreme happiness. Happiness and misery are just two ends of a spectrum. If you have never experienced extreme pain then it will be much harder to distinguish when you are truly happy.
If your ultimate goal in life is to avoid pain in reality, then you are completely missing this important truth. If you never experienced pain then you would have no contrast to compare it to extreme joy. Therefore a truly perfect life would never devoid of pain because the pain is necessary to create the joy and happiness you really want.
If you are currently experiencing a lot of pain in your life and you find it hard to believe that life can be perfect remember that this pain is simply expanding your ability to experience true happiness. These two emotions are just the two ends of a spectrum of feeling. Without feeling heavily on one end you cannot feel much on the other.
A great reference to this truth about happiness recently occurred in my life on a small scale. A little over a week ago I was feeling fairly bored, meaning my level of emotion was fairly neutral. It was after this point that some technical problems with this website came to my attention. At first I felt some pain as I scrambled to try to fix the problems. I kept thinking how I missed feeling just bored rather than frustrated and stressed. However after I fixed the problem I immediately felt very happy and content with myself.
Why would that have been? After fixing the problems on this site I was right back where I was when I felt bored. Doesn’t it seem strange that I would feel much better after fixing the problem than I had before I knew about the problem even though my life was pretty much the same in both instances? Not if you understand that the minor pain caused by the frustration created the boost of happiness after it was solved. All happiness is a result of past pain.
There is Only One Reality
One of the biggest reasons that it makes sense to believe life is perfect is that you don’t have anything to compare it to. You have only ever experienced one reality, this one. To speculate that if it were different it would be better or worse doesn’t make sense since you can’t possibly visualize the full consequences those changes would result in.
If there is one truth about reality that I have been able to discover it is that the whole of reality is the way it is because it must be the way it is. At the most basic level of reality, it exists how it is because it must exist that way. If there were another option, then both those universes would be part of the overall content of reality and they exist the way they do because they must. This may sound fairly esoteric, but the basic point I am trying to drive at is that there is no point quibbling over whether or not reality is perfect because there is nothing to compare it to. It has to be perfect because it is the only possibility.
Faith in Life’s Perfection
Being fairly secular and logical in the running of my life I often avoid words like faith like the plague as being the last refuge of someone who has abandoned all rationality to the wind. Despite this it is sometimes necessary to have faith in a belief even when outward evidence currently contradict it. It takes a fair bit of faith to believe that life is perfect because looking around most of the time, initial observations seem to completely contradict that.
You need to have faith in life’s perfection simply because you are not omnipotent. You can’t know how the pain you are experiencing now will create joy in the future. You can’t know how the problems you are experiencing now are causing you to grow and expand to become more than you could have possibly realized before. Even if things seem flawed and imperfect, having faith that these defects will turn out to be advantages in the greater scheme of things.
If Life is Perfect, Then Why Grow?
This belief in the perfection of life and reality brings up a very compelling question. If life is really perfect, then how is it even possible to improve or grow for the future? The answer to this question is fairly subtle and requires some more detailed explanation.
When I said that life was perfect, this was only a partial truth. Yes life is perfect, but our perception of it is not. We can improve our lives but our perception can often be flawed. For example, if life presents you with an opportunity for growth and you label this opportunity as a problem or tragedy, then clearly your perception has some flaws in it.
Because reality is perfect but our perception is not, then all growth is really an attempt to match perception to reality. All growth is an attempt to take our minuscule and flawed perception and hope to adjust it closer to the perfection of reality. Therefore growth is not wasteful but of utmost importance.
By adjusting our perception I don’t simply mean positive thinking. Positive thinking is certainly helpful, but it is actually a fairly lousy way to improve your perception of reality. By taking action and actively trying to ‘improve’ your life you naturally tend to improve your perception of perfect reality.
I’ve dumped a lot of stuff on you in this article, so lets get a basic summary of my crazy rambling:
- Life is perfect because:
- Everything is either an opportunity for growth or a benefit and,
- All happiness is the result of past pain.
- Have faith that life is perfect
- Reality is perfect because:
- The entirety of reality exists the way it is because it must, therefore there is nothing to compare it with. Without a comparison it must, therefore, be perfect.
- Perception, however, isn’t perfect.
- All growth is important even in a perfect life because all growth and improvement is ultimately an attempt the improve perception to match a perfect reality.
Life and reality are perfect. Holding this belief has an amazing benefit on my own life. Whenever I am feeling a lot of pain in my life, a reminder of this belief allows me to make some sense of it even when the environment provides none. All growth and improvement is ultimately a shift in perception towards the perfection of reality. Getting the most out of your life simply means realizing you already do.