I recently read a quote by Mother Teresa that said, “It’s not what you do, it’s how you do it.” At least that’s what I remember it saying, and now that I’m sitting here writing that, I am even wondering if it was her who said it.
It made me pause because I get stuck on that obstacle a lot in life–you know, the obstacle where you look at your accomplishments, or lack thereof, and wonder how you matter or make any sort of real difference.
Some folks were born to do big, important things that literally change the course of humanity for the better. Me? Nope, not one of those people. And sometimes my pea-brain ego throws a hissy fit about that, wishing I could do something more impactful.
Because, really, let’s be honest–most people would rather have a leading role in a play and not be a tree in the background. But the older I get, the more okay I am with being a tree in the background the more I look out rather than in.
This pandemic caused me to slow down and immerse myself in this life, to really be in it and see if anything needs to change. What I keep coming away with is I get so caught up on the big picture and the things I crave to accomplish that I fail to give myself a pat on the back for the small things I do that touch others. Accomplishing things does not have to be the foremost goal in my brain so much that it blurs my focus from seeing this day.
I’m not out curing cancer, building homes in Africa or figuring out the secret to world peace, but I want to do all those things. The truth is, I am only equipped to be me, so why not dig in deep to who this “me” is, right?
Why not bring my zeal and uniqueness to everything I do and realize this settling into who I am is actually the best gift to release into the world?
The other day I was laughing out loud at work, and I have a very distinct guffaw, sort of annoying laugh, I’ll admit. I hadn’t been to work for two months, and a coworker walked by and said to another coworker, “Oh, I’ve missed that laugh. She’s back!” Just being missed and knowing I add something super small to my corner of the world was confirmation that giving my best, authentic self each day instead of wondering what’s in it for me, is a pretty wise path to start hiking on.
I’ve had peace lately about life, and I’m not saying I’ve got life figured all out. All I’m saying is I’m okay at the end of each day feeling like I lived life deeply that day and I am fine with not knowing what tomorrow holds. I don’t worry about it, and I welcome the not knowing. It feels like spiritual growth, and I’ll take it.
I know this means sometimes tomorrow will be better than I hoped and other times it will be worse, but for whatever reason, I now feel open to it all because I have this hunger to not focus so much on what I do but how do I do it.
And how I do it–life–is with deep-running emotions, love, obnoxious laughter and honesty. I suck at a lot of things, but lately I know I’ve got this, and who I am most days is someone I can be proud of, and the days where I get off track, I can breathe and know I have the power to stand back up and do better, and that self-realization has more depth than any big career goals I keep dreaming up.
This doesn’t mean I’m going to start being lazy and stop going after goals. In fact, it fills me with more confidence to go after things I want and know that if I fail, I’ll be just fine because it’s not what I do that counts, it’s how I do it. It’s how deeply I connect with others and how much joy I can find in the little things that I’ll remember most at the end of the journey.
I guess it took slowing down for two months to sit with life to realize this, so it was time well spent after all.
What about you? What truths about life have found their way into your brain lately?
Rebecca Rine is a writer at RebeccaRine.com where she writes honestly about the joys of an ordinary life and feeling it all. Her podcast “Real Life out Loud” can be heard on various platforms. Her short videos about life and “one thing to think about” can be found on YouTube. Over the pandemic, she has been off all other social media, and doesn’t plan on going back to it.
Image courtesy of alexandra lammerink.