I slept for eleven hours last night. It was wonderful, and I think very much needed. I tend to push myself fairly hard, and every so often my body just says ‘nope, that’s it, I quit’. Then I get sick and have to spend a few days sleeping and eating a lot. Yesterday, I could tell that I was starting to come down with something, and I still did my best to get all of my work done, but I also tried to take some time to relax and enjoy myself. As Americans we tend to have a habit of forgetting to take care of ourselves. We’re not as bad as some *cough* Japanese *cough*, and we tend to be much harder workers than others *cough* Spanish *cough*.
All in all, I think we’re close to having a good balance. There are some people who work 80, 90, 100 hour weeks and this isn’t a good thing, but then there are some who work 20 hour weeks and think that they spend too much time at work, which is ridiculous. Work is important, it’s part of being a grown-up and taking responsibility, which is also a good thing, but it’s very important to find time to just relax and enjoy yourself as well, and it’s important to know how you enjoy yourself.
There are lots of different ways to play. Some people like to play with action figures, or to play video games. Other people like to play football or soccer. Other people like to just lay around and watch movies, and some people like to go out and start fights. I have to admit that if I can find a good person to fight with, a person who knows how to really enjoy a good, clean fight, then it’s a lot of fun. Those people are fairly rare though.
So, all in all, I’m actually a fan of the ‘American’ work ethic (not that every American has this ethic). Work hard when its time to work, and relax well when its time to relax. However, our priorities are way off base. We seem to have taken the motto ‘If something’s worth doing, then it’s worth doing right’ far too seriously. I was raised with the idea that if I can’t be that absolute best at something, then there’s no point in even trying. The goal was not ‘do your best’ but ‘be the best’, and as I drill into all of my students, but especially my martial arts students, ‘there will always be someone better than you’.
I think that a better motto for us to live by is ‘if something’s worth doing, then it’s worth doing badly’. I tend to want to do the things that I’m really good at. I’m good at fighting, I’m good at teaching, I’m good at deep conversation, and I thoroughly enjoy all of these things. I seek them out because I enjoy them. However, the things that I’m bad at… making money, paying bills, math, romantic relationships, small talk, bananagrams, etc I often find myself avoiding. I find excuses for not doing things that are absolutely worth doing, because I’m not very good at them. That’s a dumb thing to do.
If something is actually worth doing, then it’s worth doing it badly. I spent the other night with a group of friends (… all girls actually) just hanging out and playing games. We played volleyball, frisbee, bananagrams… all things that I’m pretty bad at. There was no deep conversation (this group actively avoids that), and obviously there was no fighting. However, I thoroughly enjoyed the evening because I just let myself suck. I didn’t try to win, I just tried to have fun, and I did. So, the moral for today: stop trying to be the best at everything! Do your best, absolutely, but don’t be afraid to lose a game, get a B (or a D), or just fail at something that’s worth doing. If it’s worth doing, then it doesn’t matter if you succeed. It’s not about succeeding, it’s about doing.