Covid-19 took the world by storm, leaving a mixed bag of consequences in its wake. On the one hand, loss, fear, and tragedy affected many lives. However, a global shift mindset seemed to occur as well. Priorities became more evident than before, with mental health taking precedent. As we continue living in an unpredictable world, it is important to reduce stress in the areas we can. This is where Team HJG’s 2023 Mantra comes into play: Progress Over Perfection.
Sometimes overwhelm can be debilitating, not to mention exhausting. With personal and professional to-do lists trailing on forever, it’s easy to feel maxed out and stuck. Adopting a mantra, a phrase or word that guides your mind, can make a huge impact. While it may sound quite simple, there is science behind it! Re-wiring our thought cycles is a form of CBT and allows us to tend to our minds in a gentle manner.
We chose the mantra “Progress Over Perfection” for 2023, because simply stated, it’s a message we all need. “I use this mantra all the time,” says Hayley, a teacher. “Sometimes my house is so messy when I come home from work, and I just want to cry. This mantra comes in handy for moments big and small.” By utilizing this mantra regularly, Hayley has learned that instead of cleaning everything all at once (in this example), picking up a couple things is better than simply nothing.
This same concept can be carried over to other areas of life as well. For example, if you have 3 major emails to send, start small. Start typing a draft for just one email. Often, the momentum from starting is enough to keep us going. However, even if you don’t finish the task, you have successfully moved from a state of freeze to action.
“I implement this mantra when it comes to exercise,” says Jeremiah, a tech consultant. “Starting is the hardest part for me. Once I am in motion, I love it.” For Jeremiah, progress over perfection looks different every day. “Some days, I put my shoes on and that’s enough to get me going. Other days, I put my shoes on and walk to my mailbox. Either way, I celebrate my wins.”
While the effects of mantra meditation on the brain are understudied, the evidence we do have is hopeful. According to Psychology Today, “A recent review article examining the research on this subject suggests that mantra meditation activates areas of the brain such as the thalamus, which is related to sensory perception, and the hippocampus, which is related to memory function, and that it can help synchronize networks in the prefrontal cortex which improves cognitive performance.”
Any time negative, overwhelming, or unproductive thoughts bombard the mind, positive disruption is a welcome force. With practice, mantras will start naturally entering the mind during troubled times. “I started by saying ‘progress over perfection’ aloud to get into the habit. Now I catch my brain automatically playing this mantra when I’m going through a hard time or feel stuck,” adds Hayley.
While a mantra may not solve every world problem, it’s a simple start to nurturing the mind with solutions-based thinking. Ultimately, our thoughts dictate our perceptions of the world and people around us. There is so much in life out of human control; therefore, simplifying tasks and thoughts is a kind, productive way to manage some of the inevitable chaos. While perfection may never be achievable, progress always is. Whether it’s one load of laundry or simply placing the laundry basket by the washing machine, progress looks different every day. And that’s perfectly okay.