Ever heard the saying “Work hard, play hard”? I think the Cajuns invented it…The holiday of Mardi Gras (translation FAT TUESDAY) is a celebration of glutton & debauchery. The rules we follow the rest of the year concerning proper times to start drinking, when to eat cake and boudin, and how to dress in public are literally thrown out of the window (read: off the float). It’s chaotic to say the least. Funny thing about this holiday–the Lenten season of repentance directly follows it. It’s like everyone agreed, “We’ve gotta get back on track after this!” While there is some truth to that (no, we can’t have King Cake & beer with lunch all year) this mentality can be damaging to long-term happiness. If we view ourselves as off-track, we feel things like disappointment & shame. We want to repent for all the wrong-doings/eatings/drinkings. How can anyone have fun with that hanging over their head?
For those of you that are still getting the hang of your resolution to eat right and work out, Mardi Gras can feel like a wrench in your gears of progress. What does that mean for the path to success? Does it represent a road block, a detour, or a cliff jump? In my opinion, it’s simply part of the journey. Sometimes the pendulum swings to the side of healthy habits, and sometimes it swings to the side of indulgence. Regardless, we are always moving forward, because we are living with purpose. When I read that “living a balanced life” is a mythical state we humans try to attain, I was relieved! In the book The One Thing by Gary Keller, he explains how this myth is detrimental to a fulfilled mentality and life. No one can do it all, and everyone will veer “out of balance” from time to time. In fact, making real strides in your life’s work requires that you let some things stay on the back burners in the meantime. When I think of people who have made the most impact in the world, I am certain their pendulum swung and stuck to one side for a while.
Long term fulfillment will not be found in the type of yo-yo commitment many of us are stuck in. Actually if you’re the “sensitive type” like me, this mentality is more than just confusing. The cycle starts and doesn’t stop all year long. Summer festivities, fall shenanigans, football season, and holiday parties…it’s all there to interrupt my “good behavior”& leave me feeling off-schedule. Actually, when I was succumbing to social pressures & viewing my life journey as on- or off-balanced, my physical and mental health suffered considerably. If I don’t give myself a break literally and figuratively, my stress rises and my productivity plummets.
Confused yet? It’s tough to strike the right chord with this concept of taking breaks to achieve success. If we expect ourselves to have the same amount of will-power and to practice the same level of discipline year-round, we are bound to be disappointed in ourselves. We might even start pointing the finger at people or places. The truth is, we won’t always be disciplined, & we won’t always have enough willpower. Letting go of this concept of perfection is surprisingly freeing. While it might sound like justifying partying too hard, it is just the opposite. When we put real human capabilities into perspective, we start taking the pressure off ourselves. I’ve found myself having fun at the party without the guilt-mentality AND waking up the next day still as committed to my purpose as ever.
I can hear the parade-viewers gathering outside my window, and I’m preparing myself to fully enjoy this unique holiday in my hometown. I hope everyone enjoys this & all the holidays to come this year. I’m ready to enjoy the heck out of myself without losing my sense of purpose (finally!). I hope you can do the same.
As always with peace, love, & a kick-in-the-butt,