I’m going to say something distinctly un-American here.

I don’t think we always have to do our best.


Now, before you ship me off to live with the French, let me explain.


It’s been a long summer. It’s been hot. I’ve fought multiple injuries and chronic pain. People and creatures I love have fought illness, sadness, and injury. I’m really into politics, unfortunately, which is a complete a shit-show. The shootings, the terrorist attacks, the hate-mongering online, the arguing…I’m just tired. Run-down-needing-a-month-on-the-beach-with-a-margarita tired. I’m grumpy and uninspired. You feel me?

I’ve soldiered on in every area of my life: trying to work harder, smile bigger, love more, love better, run faster, clean the house more thoroughly, get more organized…you know, being the change I want to see in the world and all of that. This is who I was created to be, and I generally have un-ending energy for it.


Yesterday, I found myself feeling physically and mentally beat up on the drive to yoga. I was literally falling asleep at the wheel. I almost turned around, because yoga is another place where I feel like I should give 150%, pushing myself to do my best and I didn’t have it to give.

But, I realized that all of that expectation is self-inflicted. So, I walked into class, determined to not do my best. I was shooting for staying the whole hour, even if it was asleep in child’s pose, forehead planted on my mat.

As the flows began, I chose to ask myself with each posture, “How can I feel BETTER at the end of this pose? What will energize me rather than deplete me?” Sometimes the answer was holding WAY back from my capabilities. Other times it was pushing a little further into a pose than I had gone before. And a few times, it meant skipping a pose altogether and planting my forehead on the mat and breathing.

As you can imagine, I felt so much better at the end of class than I did the beginning. The only thing I changed was to listen to my body and my spirit rather than my expectations.



What if, once in a while, we gave ourselves permission to fall short? Without guilt?


What if we changed the narrative from one of “always striving” to “always listening”?


What if we glorified working smarter rather than working harder?


Now, I’m not suggesting we start dropping the ball in every area of our life when it gets a little uncomfortable. What I’m suggesting is that by listening to ourselves, we can actively rest in some activities to give us energy for others. Maybe giving 80% in yoga allows me to give 120% with my kids.


Another way to say it is:

Rather than doing our best, maybe we do what is best.