Welcome to another Zoo-notable- caring for our planet and our animals by taking better care of ourselves. This time I’ll be tackling the wonderful book The Pursuit of Perfect by Tal Ben-Shahar.
This notable was actually pretty difficult to complete, because there are way more than just five Big Ideas I can extract from Pursuit of Perfect. I wanted to impart all the ideas Tal shares and the ideas that resonated, but there are just so many., and well, my perfectionism started rearing its ugly head.
I wanted this note to be, well, perfect. But that’s not the point of this book. The point is to stop chasing perfection and start living a happier, optimal life.
Diving-in with The Pursuit of Perfect.
First, a great quote from Tal Ben-Shahar:
“The central and defining characteristic of perfectionism is the fear of failure. The Perfectionist is driven by this fear; her primary concern is to avoid falling down, deviating, stumbling, erring. She tries in vain to force reality (where some failure is unavoidable) to fit into her straight-line vision of life (where no failure is acceptable)—which is like trying to fit a square peg into a round hole. When faced with the impossibility of this endeavor, she begins to shrink from challenges, to run away from activities where there is some risk of failure. And when she actually fails—when she sooner or later comes face-to-face with her imperfections, with her humanity—she is devastated, which only serves to intensify her fear of failing in the future.Tal Ben-Shahar The Pursuit of Perfect
The Optimalist does not like to fail either—nobody does—but she understands that there is no other way to learn and ultimately succeed. For the Optimalist, failure is an inevitable part of the journey, of getting from where she is to where she wants to be. She views the optimal journey not as a straight line but as something more like an irregular upwards spiral—while the general direction is toward her objective, she knows that there will be numerous deviations along the way. The Optimalist may have the exact same aspirations as the Perfectionist, but he also values the journey that takes him to his destination.”
I was fortunate enough to receive personal coaching from Tal Ben Shahar during my Optimize program, and I loved the moment more than anything else so far. Tal was a Positive Psychology professor at Harvard University, teaching the most popular course in Harvard’s history before becoming a consultant, author, and lecturer. He is the author of several New York Times bestsellers.
Tal helped me through my perfectionist standards I set with ZooFit. While I enjoy connecting to people even in the smallest way, I often get frustrated with the slow pace in which I am reaching others. When am I being overly Pollyanna about my approach, and when am I being too hard on myself?
Tal shared with me a story I am familiar with- the story of the boy and the sea star. An old man watched a young boy walking along the beach, picking up sea stars that had washed ashore, and tossing them back into the water. There were hundreds of the little stars all along the sand. “Why are you doing this?” the man asked. “You can’t possibly get to all the sea stars. What difference are you making?” Without skipping a beat, the boy picked up another sea star and threw it back into the water. “I made a difference to that one.”
This is also similar to the Hummingbird story (see that note: here). We can only do what we can. But know that doing what we can will make all the difference to those whose lives we touch.
The Pursuit of Perfect embodies the persona of The Hummingbird. Rather than being perfect, we can strive to be Optimalists, which almost by definition does “what they can”. The Oxford Dictionary defines optimal as the “best, most favorable, especially under a particular set of circumstances.” Finding the optimal—whether it is the best use of the limited time we have in a day or creating the best enrichment with our budget or materials—is something animal care professionals are all accustomed to doing. We acknowledge the constraints of reality—that there are only twenty-four hours in a day, that we have a limited amount of money to spend—and we arrange our lives accordingly.
As I mentioned, I had a very difficult time choosing just five Big Ideas. But they all center around the “optimalism” over “perfectionism” model. And they all stem from the central idea of #1- Learn to fail, or fail to learn.
Big Idea #1: Learn to fail or fail to learn
“Failure is an inescapable part of life and a critically important part of any successful life. We learn to walk by falling, to talk by babbling, to shoot a basket by missing, and to color the inside of a square by scribbling outside the box. Those who intensely fear failing end up falling short of their potential. We either learn to fail or we fail to learn”Tal Ben-Shahar Pursuit of Perfect
This is the biggest idea of them all for me, and the basis of what this entire book is about- dealing with failure, or at least the fear of failure.
As Abraham Maslow once said: “There are no perfect human beings”. And as Brian Johnson from Optimize has said in response to this statement “You and I are not going to be the first.”
Tal Ben-Shahar gives a really in-depth description of what a Perfectionist is, and what he calls an Optimalist. Seeing these descriptions written out in black and white for me allowed me to reflect and understand how I can shift my perspective and my mentality to create a happier life, and honestly, a more productive and fulfilling life.
“While the Optimalist has a clear sense of direction, he is dynamic and adaptable, open to different alternatives, able to cope with surprises and unpredictable twists and turns.”Tal Ben-Shahar The Pursuit of Perfect
The Perfectionist and the Optimalist- Side by Side
|Journey as a straight line
|Journey as an irregular spiral
|Fear or failure
|Failure as feedback
|Focus on destination
|Focus on journey and destination
|All or nothing thinking
|Nuanced, complex thinking
|Open to suggestions
We all have a bit of Perfectionism and Optimalism within each of us. It’s more about recognizing where we are trying to be perfect, and beating ourselves up when we miss our mark, and always working to adopt the Optimalist mentality as much as possible. If we are to succeed, we must learn to fail, and embrace those failures.
Animal Professionals as Optimalists
I feel most animal professionals are great at adopting an Optimalist mentality with their animals– we let them fail as often as it takes for them to learn a new behavior, or figure out a new enrichment item. But most of us are not as great at this in our own lives.
Imagine if we treated animals in our care, or our children, with such high expectations—get this on the first try or not at all? This ideal of Perfectionism can have a devastating impact on self-esteem. Think of a child—or an animal—where regardless of what he/she does, they are constantly criticized or put down. The opposite approach is also true. How helpless would animals feel if we never gave them an opportunity to fail, to figure things out? A child would never learn to walk if he were constantly held up, supported, deprived of the unpleasant experience of falling down. Whether we are parents or trainers, our goal is to always empower, to improve self-worth and well-being. Switching from a Perfectionist mentality of “no mistakes allowed” and “I can’t do that because I’m afraid to fail (failure is not allowed)” to “failures help me learn” creates a more empowering environment—one where the child, the animal, and ourselves develop skills to thrive.
So in what areas are YOU being a Perfectionist? What ways are you an Optimalist? Do you expect instantaneous results, a path in a straight direct line to success? Or do you thrive in the loop-de-loop path your journey is travelling? Let’s learn and grow, and fail often.
Big Idea #2: Benefit Finders Versus Fault Finders
“It is not the critic who counts, not the man who points out how the strong man stumbled, or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena; whose face is marred by the dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error or shortcoming; who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions and spends himself for a worthy cause; who, at the best, knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who, at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly; so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who knew neither victory or defeat.”Theodore Roosevelt, 1910
One of the ways Tal differentiates Perfectionists from Optimalists is that Perfectionists are Fault-finders, and Optimalists are Benefit- finders. Benefit finders don’t maintain a complete “Pollyanna” approach to life, necessarily. They are realistic. They just focus on 1) what they have control over in situations (their response to situations) and 2) solutions rather than problems. They find the opportunities within the challenges rather than the obstacles and the surmounting problems.
I’m reminded of the age old adage “when you point your finger to blame someone else for your problems, there are three pointing back at yourself”. Which relates to the idea of focusing on what we DO have control over—how we respond, how we show up, and acceptance to the things we cannot change. We do only what we can. Outright fault finding with others doesn’t help us or others succeed.
“’The fault finder,’ Henry David Thoreau said ‘will find fault in paradise.’ No matter how successful a person is, the Perfectionist only sees the shortcomings and imperfections and they eclipse all their accomplishments…Seeking faults, he finds them, of course—even in paradise.Tal Ben-Shahar The Pursuit of Perfect
Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote, ‘To different minds, the same world is a hell, and a heaven.’ Optimalists tend to be benefit finders—the sort of people who find the silver lining in the dark cloud, who makes lemonade out of lemons, who look on the bright side of life, and who do not fault writers for using too many clichés. With a knack of turning setbacks into opportunities, the Optimalist goes through life with an overall sense of optimism.”
Oysters as Optimalists
This reminds me of the great lesson we can learn from oysters. Oysters are where we get the precious gem, the pearl. But how do oysters make such beautiful objects? Well, most of us may have heard an irritant, such as a grain of sand, is embedded in their mantle, and the oyster covers the irritant with nacre, to smooth it over, and over time, the irritant is made into a pearl.
And this is like taking lemons and turning it into lemonade. But oysters are even more amazing. See, the irritant isn’t usually a grain of sand, at least not in the wild. In oyster farms where pearls are cultivated, yes, humans embed a grain of sand into the mantle. In nature, the “irritant” is usually a parasite.
Just let that sink in for a moment. Something hellbent on destroying an oyster is instead turned into something precious and beautiful. That takes the lemonade stand and pushes it up a few notches.
Finding Faults or Benefits?
So, what are the challenges in our lives we can turn to benefits? Are we Fault-finders, finding fault even in paradise, or are we Benefit-finders, seeing the positive in every situation, even what others consider hell?
Things will never be 100% perfect all the time. We either learn from these imperfections, or we actively accept them.
“Active acceptance is about recognizing things as they are and then choosing the course of action we deem appropriate and worthy of ourselves. It’s about recognizing that at every moment in our life we have a choice—to be afraid and yet to act courageously, to feel jealous and yet to act benevolently, to accept being human and act with humanity”.Tal Ben-Shahar The Pursuit of Perfect
We can make a huge difference in the world. Those failures, those trial and errors, those less than perfect attempts are what creates change and makes the world a better place.
Big Idea #3: Good Enough Principle
We all want the perfect life. There is no harm in wanting it. Who wouldn’t want to be the perfect spouse, the perfect parent, the perfect role model for fitness and health, the perfect employee, the perfect conservationist, etc?
However we may strive for perfection in the important areas of our life, we honestly can’t be perfect all areas of life. There is going to be some give in an area here and there. If you work 60 hours a week because you are dedicated to your job and want to be recognized for your commitment, then other areas in your life may falter- you may not have as much one-on-one time with your significant other, or have as much time to go to the gym or out with friends as you would ideally like.
But there is a way to have your cake and eat it too, or a bit of your idealistic life. It’s a way to a happier life as well, where we aren’t as overwhelmed by perfectionism. Tal calls it the Good Enough Principle.
“I looked for role models in each of my five specific areas (professional, parent, husband, fitness, and friend). And while I found people who were doing some of these things well, none of them was a role model in all five areas or even a majority of them. I wondered whether in the modern world a person’s basic choice was either to essentially give up on an area or two of one’s life or to condemn oneself to being frustrated in all areas of life.Tal Ben-Shahar The Pursuit of Perfect
There is a third way—the way of the Optimalist. Having found it, I am currently a lot more satisfied with my life as whole. Reaching this stage took significant readjustment, the adoption of a whole new approach to the way I manage my time and expectations. The first step was to accept the reality that I could not have it all.
The second step was to ask myself what would be good enough in each of the five areas of my life that were important to me. In a perfect world, I would spend twelve hours a day engaged in my work; in the real world, nine to five was good enough. In a perfect world, I would practice yoga ninety minutes six times a week and spending a similar amount of time at the gym; in the good-enough world, an hour of yoga twice a week and jogging for thirty minutes three times a week would suffice.
With my revised set of expectations, a fresh sense of satisfaction replaced the old frustration. And unexpectedly, I found that I was more energized and focused. To me, following the good enough prescription does not mean I can’t do better. It means that if I am to be realistic, I have to settle for an optimally balanced life.”
Aristotle’s Virtuous Mean
This is like finding the middle ground of our virtues. Aristotle, the wise stoic philosopher once said that virtue is not an extreme manifestation of a personal quality, but lies between insufficiency and excess of that quality. Courage, for example, isn’t having no fear, it’s doing what you know needs to be done despite the fear. It’s the happy medium between no fear (rash and impulsive boldness) and too much fear (cowardice).
And living the good-enough life doesn’t mean we give up everything on our ideal life. It is finding that happy medium—the virtuous life—between perfection and doing nothing.
Optimalists understand that human life comes with some limitations, constraints. While it’s in our nature to want more from life, we make the most of it by accepting constraints of reality and working not towards the perfect life, but the best one possible.
Perfectionist Polygamist or Optimal Serial Monogamist
The Perfectionist life leads to quite a bit of frustration. Tal describes trying to do too much in all areas of your life as being a “polygamist”. We can’t focus on one thing at a time when we’re trying to fill our plate with everything. We try to make up for it by engaging in more than one activity simultaneously, which isn’t multi-tasking, but task-switching. We end up doing all things poorly with lack of focus and switching our brain from one activity to the next.
As Tal puts it “ With the change from a perfectionist fantasy to an optimal good-enough existence, I changed to a “serial monogamist”—engaging in each of the different activities exclusively, separately. When I am with my children, I am with them, and the computer and phone are off; my friends get my undivided attention when we are together; when working out, I am more focused, and much more likely to enjoy the meditative unity of mind and body. From an unfulfilled polygamist I became a much more satisfied serial monogamist.”
What are some areas in your life where you can adopt the Good Enough Principle? Switch from a Perfectionist Polygamist to an Optimal Serial Monogamist and find satisfaction and fulfillment in all areas of your life.
Big Idea #4: PRP- The Happier LRS for Humans
In animal training, when the animal does something incorrect—the wrong behavior, incorrect criteria, or sometimes they just do nothing after you’ve asked for a behavior—the way a trainer responds is just as vital to the animal’s learning as when they do the behavior correctly. Trainers have developed what they call an LRS, which stands for Least Reinforcing Scenario. Of course, rewarding an animal for an incorrect behavior won’t teach them the correct action. But in modern training, punishment is not an option. Punishment doesn’t actually teach the animal what we want them to do, and it often diminishes our relationship with the animal. Ignoring a problem behavior doesn’t make it go away either.
The LRS helps the trainer communicate as clearly as possible that the behavior the animal just performed, or did not perform, will not earn them a reward. It’s a neutral response, neither reinforcing or punishing. But it is a response, meaning we acknowledge the behavior happened, and then move on.
The Human LRS
Wouldn’t it be nice if we humans treated ourselves with the same compassion as trainers treat their animals? Well, we can. The first step is to understand what we are responding to after a disappointing or upsetting event. Often we react to our interpretation of the event, rather than the event itself. So an event leads to a thought and the thought evokes an emotion. When we interpret the event negatively, it leads to more disturbing emotions. But instead of punishing ourselves with guilt, shame, or the other feelings associated with fear of failure, Tal suggests we follow his PRP process.
Give yourself permission to be human, reconstruct the situation, and then gain a wider perspective.
Permission: We allow ourselves to feel the disappointing or frustrating emotion. Emotions are a part of our reality. It’s okay to be disappointed. But rather than dwell on it, we can learn from it, which is our next step—Reconstruction. This is where we change our interpretation of an event from a negative/unhelpful interpretation to a positive/helpful one. Ask yourself what you can learn from this failure or disappointment. The reconstruction from “shame” or guilt to a learning experience allows us to grow and move forward. Though we may still feel disappointed that things didn’t turn out the way we had hoped they would, we can remind ourselves that no significant journey is free of failure. We either win, or we learn.
And finally we change our Perspective: Look at the bigger picture by appreciating all the wonderful things in our life, which taken together, eclipse the particular experience that was painful.
I have my own PRP/LRS practice I call AC/DC (yes, that’s a riff from the 90s rock band). It stands for Acknowledge, Compassion, and Data Collection. First, I acknowledge the event. “Another agent rejected me for lack of a substantial platform”.
Second, I show myself some compassion- yes, this is upsetting. I’ve worked hard on ZooFit, and I want to share it with the world. It’s understandably frustrating to be rejected.
Third, I use the event as Data Collection. What can I do moving forward to show agents A) I am willing to work my ass off to promote my book, or B) attract more followers while being true to myself?
Use the PRP (Permission, Reconstruction, and Perspective) or the AC/DC for yourself. Think of a recent event that upset you emotionally. Go through the steps- give yourself permission to be human and acknowledge what happened. Then reconstruct the situation to see what you can learn from it. And shift your perspective to focus on the positives in your life. This isn’t about ignoring or avoiding painful emotions, it’s about gaining a new perspective and appreciating all aspects of our journey—the wins and the “failures”.
Big Idea #5: Suffering and Pain as an Optimalist
“Life is fraught with struggles, difficulties, and disappointments, but the Optimalist is able to find pleasure in the journey without losing his focus on his destination.”Tal Ben-Shahar The Pursuit of Perfect
Suffering greatly. Yeah. It’s not always easy to do. But there are stories throughout history, and in our own life that show how Optimalists do prevail.
During the Vietnam War, Admiral James Stockdale was a prisoner of war for over seven years. He became the definition of resilience in the face of adversity. According to Stockdale, there are two defining characteristics of captives who were mostly likely to survive the brutal conditions of Vietnamese prison. 1- Accepting rather than ignoring the harsh reality of their situation. And 2- never stop believing that they would someday get out, that is, they never lost hope that all would work out in the end.
Those who either believed they would never get out and those who kept expecting they would be freed within an unrealistically short time frame were among the prisoners most likely to die.
Hope and optimism are key to surviving.
The Optimalist in the Age of Coronavirus
Right now our world is experiencing a truly difficult and trying time. Whole countries are shut down to help stop the spread of the coronavirus. It is frustrating, it is upsetting, and it is, well, not to take away from ACTUAL prison, it is pretty brutal.
But it is in these challenges that we can actually come out stronger. Learn from these experiences and struggles we are facing. Face them with hope and honesty. Do COVID-19 restrictions suck? Yes. Yes, they suck. But we will get through this. It will be hard, but taking care of ourselves, and doing our part to take care of the community is going to make it less difficult, and possibly less impactful. But we first have to take care of ourselves.
Throughout Pursuit of Perfect, Tal continuously went back to a practice for dealing with such challenges. If you are suffering, he tells us to be thankful. Yes, thankful. Being mindful, and focusing on the positive aspects of your life—but not ignoring the disappointments, problems, and struggles—will improve our sense of well-being.
The Power of Gratitude
A 2003 study by Robert Emmons and Michael McCollough split participants into two basic groups—those who practiced gratitude daily, and those who did not. The gratitude group became more appreciative of life as a whole, and enjoyed higher levels positive emotions: they felt happier, more determined, more energetic, and more optimistic. Grateful participants were also more likely to work towards a life dream or important personal goal. They also slept better, exercised more, and experienced fewer symptoms of physical illness.
When we practice the gratitude exercise mindfully—when we take the time and make the effort to savor the good in our lives—we benefit in two ways. First, we become more appreciative, and the good in our lives appreciates. Appreciation has two meanings. The first is “to be thankful” (the opposite of taking something for granted). The second meaning is “to increase in value” (as money does in the bank).What’s interesting, is when we practice gratitude, that is, appreciating the good in our lives, the good in our lives grows.
The second benefit of gratitude is the exercise of mindfulness, which in itself is beneficial to us.
Time, Love, and Mindfulness
Mindfulness is about being fully aware of whatever it is that we are doing and accepting the present moment without judgement or evaluation. When we focus on the here and now and allow ourselves to feel whatever feelings emerge, whether we like them or not.
Mindfulness meditation is the practice of acceptance. In the same way that understanding in theory what would improve your tennis backhand only takes you so far—you have to actually practice the moves in order to really become good at them—so theorizing about acceptance has its limits.
So, what hardships are going on in your life right now? With the coronavirus still keeping many of us sheltering in place or unable to return to “normal” life, this might not be a difficult question. But how can you appreciate the situation a little more? What can you learn from it? In what ways can you grow?
Let’s practice mindfulness and gratitude. Recognizing the challenges we face, recognizing the hardships, and making the most out of a bad situation. When we appreciate the good in our lives, the good in our lives appreciates.
Bonus Big Idea: Time-Ins, Exercises, and Meditations
“I suggest reading this book slowly, with stops and starts, taking time to apply the material and to reflect on it. To help you with this process of action and reflection, there are exercises at the end of each chapter. Throughout the book, there are also Time-Ins—questions or ideas to consider. They provide an occasion to pause and reflect—and therefor to better understand and assimilate the material .”Tal Ben-Shahar The Pursuit of Perfect
For me, I really don’t know if I’d have found this book as powerful as I did without the Time-Ins, Exercises, and Meditations. Because mid-chapter I’d stop and consider the Time-In being asked-
“Think of something you would like to do but have always been reluctant to try for fear of failing. Then go ahead and do it!”
I came up with my greatest fearful Big Thing: Sending my book proposal to agents who requested from the last conference I attended. Yes, many agents in the past have said no because I lack a substantial platform. But “yes” lives in the land of “no”, and I can’t get a yes, or even a maybe, unless I try.
“Can you think of any traits or behaviors that you have tried to change and haven’t been able to? Are there positive counterparts to those traits that you value and do not want to lose?”
I was once told (a long time ago in a galaxy far far away)“I work too hard and I care too much”. While there is definitely issue with the way this is worded, I’ve come to see how this statement is true, and not in a positive sense. When I’m working for someone else, I care so much about what my supervisors think, and co-workers think, that I often don’t speak up, even when the situation warrants it. I care too much about what others think of me. And don’t get me started on my boundaries between personal and professional lives, or should I say lack thereof. But on the positive side, I am very passionate about work, dedicated and committed. And since I hate to rock the boat, I often go with the flow when working with a group. But there are ways to tone down the Perfectionist part of me (caring what people think and not having boundaries between work and personal life) while still holding onto the positive side of things – being passionate and dedicated, and easy to work with.
My absolute favorite exercises from Pursuit of Perfect were the Sentence Completions. These short sentence stems helped me see where my Perfectionism is disrupting my growth and well-being, and where I can celebrate my Optimalist lifestyle. Try some of them yourself. Just write the first thing that comes to mind, without analyzing the sentence meaning or feelings until after you have completed them. Don’t worry about grammar. Just write. I even give you some of my own sentence completions.
- If I accept myself 5 percent more…(I will gain a little more confidence, I won’t doubt myself, I might not do as much work because I’m “good-enough”, I might not try as hard)
- If I give myself the permission to be human… (I will make more mistakes, I ALLOW myself to make more mistakes, I will take more risks because mistakes are okay and part of being human.)
- When I reject my emotions…
- If I become 5% less of a Perfectionist…
- If I became 5% more realistic…
- If I appreciate my success 5% more… (I would keep working on improving , I’d appreciate appreciation, I’d be more confident and take more risks)
- If I accept failure… (I will try more, I’ll aim for more targets)
- I fear that…
- I hope that…
- If I love myself 5% more…(I will be kinder, gentler, while also being true to my energy, work, and love goals.)
- To become 5% more compassionate toward myself…(stop allowing myself to wallow and help me get back up. On the horse. Fall seven rise eight. Not fall seven, have all the pie….)
- To become 5% more compassionate toward others…
- I am beginning to see that… (in order to draw attraction to my program, I must first BE the radiant exemplar, be present and listen to others’ needs, and then show others how to do what works for me.)
- To be 5% more open about my feelings….(Talk to chris, Call friends, Keep a journal, Meditate, Snuggle kitties, Get enough rest)
- If I am more open about my feelings…
- If I bring 5% more awareness to my fears… (I will see them as just thoughts, They will lose their power over me, I will come up with more plans to battle those fears, I will see there might not be anything TO fear.)
That’s just about it for this super incredible book. And honestly, it’s really just the tip of the iceberg I’m presenting here in this note. If you are interested in learning more about Tal Ben Shahar, please check out his website at www.talbenshahar.com. If you enjoyed this note, you may also enjoy other books by Tal, including Happier, Choosing the Life You Want, and Shortcuts to Happiness.
Quotes from the Book
“There is no moment in life when we switch from perfectionism to optimalism, when we cease to reject failure, and painful emotions and, at times, success. We do, however, have the potential to increase the number of moments when we accept that we have fallen short, when we embrace our hurt feelings, and when we allow ourselves to appreciate and enjoy our accomplishments.”Tal Ben-Shahar The Pursuit of Perfect
We are never exonerated, those who are recovering Perfectionists. But accepting that reality, paradoxically, makes us more Optimalists.
“To dare is to lose one’s footing momentarily. Not to dare is to lose oneself.”Danish theologian Soren Kierkegaard
“Do not do unto yourself what you would not do unto others”Platinum Rule
“To say ‘I love you’ one must first be able to say ‘I’”.Ayn Rand
“The good life is a process, not a state of being. It is a direction, not a destination.”– Carl Rogers
There are my Zoo-notes on this awesome book. What did you think of it? Are you a recovering perfectionist? A growing Optimalist? What Big Idea appealed to you, and how can you implement it today to take better care of yourself, so we can be our best selves for the animals, our community, and the world?