In the book The Four Agreements, the fourth agreement according to its author Don Miguel Ruiz is "always do you best". He writes, "Under any circumstance, always do your best, no more and no less. But keep in mind that your best is never going to be the same from one moment to the next. Everything is alive and changing all the time, so your best will sometimes be high quality and other times it will not be as good. When you wake up refreshed and energized in the morning , your best will be better than when you are tired. Regardless of the quality keep doing your best."
The advice that resontates the most with me is that doing our best requires a constant sensitive adjustment. This is unpredictable because it changes moment to moment based on internal and external circumstances. This also correlates to Yoga Sutra of:
Sthira Sukum Asanam (Effortless Effort)
This fundamental Yoga Sutra of Pantanjali has many interpretations one of which is that the way we practice our poses should be steady (sthira) and comfortable (sukha). These two balanced qualities of effortless effort can be applied all day long in life whereby the pose we take (walking, talking, sitting, driving) be so elegant we find the flow of doing our best not to be overly taxing.
This practice of graceful effort means that some days it might be more difficult and some days it's easier, just like life is filled with joyousness and setbacks. . But the point is to take a consistently steady, but gentle, approach, to our practice of yoga – and also to our lives away from the mat. Ruiz puts it like this...
"If you try too hard to do more than your best, you will spend more energy than is needed and in the end your best will not be enough. When you overdo, you deplete your body and go against yourself and it will take longer to accomplish your goal. But if you do less than your best, you subject yourself to frustrations, self-judgement, guilt and regret."
Cultivating sthira (firmness) and sukha (softness) is both elegant and honest. Doing our best is a rigth effort where we don’t sacrifice any one part of us for the other. Perhaps one of the most important lessons from this is when Ruiz writes, "You are not here to sacrifice your joy or your life. You are here to live, to be happy and to love. If you can do your best in two hours of meditation, but you spend 8 instead you will grow tired miss the point and won't enjoy your life."
You see how yogic this is, that we manage our energies to cultivate our own best happiness right now, right here in the present moment. And as part of this we must go easy on ourselves never pushing to a point of exhaustion whereby we might "miss the point" of life.
Remember, "You were born with the right to be happy. You were born with the right to love, to enjoy and to share your love. You are alive, so take your life and enjoy it. We don't need to know or prove anything. Just to be, to take a risk and enjoy your life, is all that matters."