I am a lover of books, it’s no secret. I will also confess that I have a bad habit of reading several at a time, so it takes that much longer for me to finish any of them. Among my current reads is one by Matthew Kelly, called Perfectly Yourself. The book is thankfully not about being perfect, but from what I can gather among the first couple of chapters, rather it is about making peace with your imperfections, becoming a better version of yourself, and learning the 9 lessons for enduring happiness. Considering that perfectionism has been a struggle of mine, I see it as no coincidence that it was passed along by a friend to me at this point in my life.
I’m going to skip past the first lesson for enduring happiness (guess you’ll need to read the book if you want that info!) and focus on the second. That being, “Just do the next right thing.” How true his point of how many endless hours we use in planning and or worrying about a future that has not been secured, while breezing past the reality that “how we deal with the here and now will determine what the future looks like.” His solution simply exists in casting your focus on just doing the next right thing, noting how quickly things can turn around in that case.
How does the quick change occur? All too often whatever we see as the problem or the source of what’s gotten us down is imagined, distorted, or exaggerated in our mind. The other powerful factor is that it gets us moving forward, and making progress makes us feel better about ourselves and life in general.
“How will I know what the next best thing to do is?” you may be wondering. Matthew’s honest response is that you almost always do know what the next right thing is. In order to get in touch with it requires quieting yourself and going to the place deep within to get in touch with the answer. The clouds of confusion will lift as you allow your heart to grasp the clear response to what life is presenting you with.
“Interim steps cannot be skipped.” What an invaluable reminder to embrace the present. The reward awaits, a future that “will be richer and more abundant because you had the wisdom, courage, and discipline to embrace this moment.” Purposeful action will lead you in the way you should go, and as you do, allowing you to become a better version of yourself.
Look back at your life for a moment. Whether you are in a good place or not, can you see the series of actions, decisions, and events that led you into your current situation? If you find yourself in a place where you are not content or lack peace, it can be overwhelming to figure a way out of it. Breaking it down into these bite-sized actions of focusing on the next best choice and after that the next can be a gradual process of assisting you in “acting” your way out of destructive patterns.
Perhaps you are staring at the door that has closed in your life, wondering how to move into the room with the window that you are supposed to open. Coming up with a grandious plan often ends in just that. As they say, “Life is what happens when you are busy making plans.” Focusing on that next right thing will line things up to fall into place for that perfect window to pop open. I say this for my own benefit of course as well. The future seems much more friendly when we look at it is in smaller incriments somehow, doesn’t it?
A few clarifications I’d like to include. I don’t propose that we loose sight of the bigger picture by focusing on these small immediate actions. Nor do I think this should exist in a vacuum of you making decisions without seeking direction from the Lord. These things all need to work in cooperation with one another, in a system of balance and harmony.
Matthew ends the chapter with encouragement. “One moment at a time, by simply doing the next right thing, you will move from confusion to clarity, from misunderstanding to insight, from despair to hope, from darkness to light, and discover your truest self.” This is my hope and prayer for you and I tonight.