Many of us live by high ideals. The challenge of living with such high ideals is that we often find we don’t live up to them.

We want to be openly generous and yet we accidentally shortchange a waiter.

We want to support our friends and yet another week slides away with no contact.

We believe in the medicine we share with others but don’t always take it ourselves.

We look at what didn’t work out well rather than celebrate what did.

We plan to be productive but wake up unable to focus.

And so on.

Being over-critical about the moments when our actions didn’t match our intentions doesn’t get those moments back. Noticing the gap between our intentions and our actions is important, but dwelling only heightens the missteps and prevents us from practicing in the current moment.

What we often forget is that we learn more from mistakes, failures, and missteps than we do from making the right steps. Even when you “fail” to live up to your intentions, if you’re truly staying present with the practice, you’re still learning how to become the person you want to be. It’s only when you presume that your failure is about capability rather than specific conditions that you undermine your development.

If you’re not occasionally losing your balance, you’re not stretching yourself. The more powerful you become, the more each movement can take you off balance.

Every moment is a moment to practice and cultivate your virtues. Continual cultivation is doable; continual perfect performance isn’t.

What are you cultivating? What prior performance do you need to move past?

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