I teach quite a bit of yoga. A common reason why people come to class is because they want to improve something about themselves - their bodies, their minds, their lives. They want to be better people.
I know. I was one of those people.
The desire to improve myself and my life after my NFL career came to an end was one of the things that led me to a steady practice of yoga and meditation. I've been down that dark path of self-doubt. That lonely place where you think everything you do is shit and you're not quite sure how to quit those self destructive habits.
A powerful realization that helped me beyond measure was through the words of a friend while residing at my lowest: "You, as you are already, are good enough. You're already perfect."
His words hit my heart like a sledgehammer, smashing false constructs I'd believed about myself for so long - that I was a failure, I would never amount to anything, I was unintelligent. When he asked me to repeat them, I did. But I barely recognized my own voice. I didn't fully believe what I was saying. I knew I still had many things in my life I wanted to improve. But this was as good of a place as any to start climbing out of this depressed state I had been in for nearly two year.
Since then, what I've learned, and its nothing new, is that when you learn to be content with who and where you are in life, everything changes. For me these were a few of the noticeable changes I experienced:
- For the first time I was satisfied with who I was and my life.
- I stopped spending energy attempting to change so that others around me would feel more comfortable about themselves.
- I stopped comparing myself to other people, wishing I was more like them.
- I quit spending money on material things I once believed I needed.
There was such freedom adopting (and eventually believing) the mindset: I already have everything I need to be happy, right here, right now. I realized how much I took for granted: waking up happy, healthy, and free to live my life, having an amazing partner as well as supportive family and friends. These are a blessing and yet I was taking them for granted.
Instead I strived for more because, well, thats what society told me I should do: more means better. I believed having nicer clothes, cooler cars, a bigger place, bigger muscles, meant I was winning in life because it was all about what other people thought. I was looking for external validation with something I was only going to find inside myself.
Finally I realized, after a deep dive inside my own mind coupled with that steady self practice of yoga and meditation, I didn't need any of that. I didn't need to improve my life. I didn't need to improve myself.
Neither do you.
You're already perfect.