The only problem was, I couldn't do it. I couldn't decide what temperature the bouncing dial was reading. That flustered me and I couldn't keep up. We all got pretty frustrated, as well as hot. The engineers uneasily decided to let me try the driving while one of them did the readings. I did great. I loved the driving, especially at eighty mph, and we were all happy. That job turned out not to be a catastrophe after all. But wait - - ! Smart businesses know this. There is a pizza place in Baltimore called Joe Squared. Its owner, Joe Edwardsen, specifically put the restaurant in an urban area with many boarded-up buildings. For the last fifteen years, Joe Squared has been a stable force in the neighborhood and has served as an inspiration for many other businesses to open. Under Joe's guidance, the restaurant sells the work of local artists and takes no commission, hosts local and regional bands and gives all ticket sales back to them, distributes pizza free to hundreds of organizations, and every month creates a special pizza in the name of a local nonprofit as a fundraiser. Additionally, the restaurant consciously hires and trains immigrants, artists, and other people who are trying to make a better life for their families. The summer after freshman year of college I worked for a company that made pipe fittings. In those days blueprints were drawn by hand, requiring precision measuring, precision drawing, precision lettering, and neatness. They hired me as a draftsman since I'd taken mechanical drawing in high school and in college. I didn't tell them that I'd made a C in high school because of sloppiness, or that in the weird college course we didn't actually do drawings, but used the instruments to solve calculus problems. They didn't ask to see a sample of my work.

My first drawing startled them. The boss tried to show me the proper way to draw various letters. The problem was, or one of the problems was, that I already knew the proper way to draw the letters. I just couldn't do it. These drawings were to be professional blueprints and, of course, I was sloppy. The boss was dismayed with me, but then he decided that I could work in the print room makings copies of everyone else's work for them. This gave the capable draftsmen more time to draw. So everyone was happy, except that the boss had to come ask me to stop whistling in the print room because I was disturbing everyone. Another escape from catastrophe. But wait - - ! You'll need to accept that you can't ever let your guard down. If you declare yourself cured, this is the time to be most concerned, because it means that you have lapsed back into a state of demanding perfection--this time about never demanding perfection. "Now that I am cured, I must never demand perfection!" Oh, but it just doesn't work that way! This is instead a recipe for making yourself anxious about not demanding perfection ever again, and for feeling down when you lapse. Be more comfortable with taking reasonable risks rather than demanding certainty. Be better able to accept your own and other's limitations rather than demanding flawlessness. Feel more secure even without the approval of others. Handle disagreement and criticism from others with greater ease. Feel disappointed rather than devastated when friends or relatives treat you poorly. Deal more effectively, behaviorally and emotionally, with matters that are beyond your control.

Experience disappointment rather than despair when things go badly. Live more comfortably in a world that lacks perfect order and tidiness. Find it easier to accept that you, like other human beings, may not always do the right thing. Find increasing excitement in the challenges of an imperfect universe that offers abundant opportunity for constructive change. Deep breathing exercises can be tremendously helpful for getting your sympathetic nervous system unstuck. Here is a simple one. Place one hand on your stomach and one hand on your chest. Close your eyes. Breathe in through your nose for the count of four, hold your breath for the count of seven, and blow out through your mouth to the count of eight. Repeat for at least five minutes or until the anxiety passes. To someone struggling with anxiety, suggesting that they should breathe deeply can seem remarkably stupid and banal, but it turns out there is solid science behind it. Recent research by scientists at Stanford University School of Medicine found a small patch of 175 nerves, deep in the brainstem, that act as an emotional pacemaker. These nerves monitor how quickly you are breathing and relay that information to a different part of the brain that monitors your state of mind. It turns out that you can trick these nerves into thinking that you are calmer than you actually feel by intentionally breathing deeply and slowing down your respiration rate. Although you might be tempted to dismiss the power of simple suggestions like "take a deep breath" for relieving anxiety, science shows you may be missing out if you do. One poignant moment took place in 2015 when there were protests in Baltimore. Joe Squared volunteers were out on the streets distributing free pizza to both the protesters and National Guard. A soldier who witnessed the calming of tempers as everyone sat down together to eat pizza described the moment as faith-restoring. He sent this email: The world just needs more pizza. Joe keeps quiet about giving back.

He considers it boastful to toot his own horn. But the community recognizes that Joe Squared cares deeply about doing good and taking action. His customers and employees remain loyal, spread the word, and are the reason that Joe Squared has become a beloved institution in Baltimore. In towns and cities across the world, business owners like Joe are improving the lives of people every day. They do it not to increase revenue but because they believe helping out is their responsibility and privilege. And as a result, their businesses thrive. In addition, our world would come to a standstill without nonprofits. The engines that power nonprofits are volunteers and donations. With money and people, they accomplish things that are simply unbelievable. After a summer as a hospital orderly, I worked for a company making a special mud used in oil drilling. I was supposed to fill in for the man who ran the lab while he went on vacation. We measured the barium content of ore samples from the field. This required concentration, precision, and routine repetition. You may guess what's coming. Heat the sample to a precise temperature for a precise time, grind it to a precise consistency and then precisely run it through a series of sieves. Mix it into a precise amount of liquid and measure the viscosity by twirling a little metal cup by hand at a precise speed, and precisely reading a fluctuating dial, pretty much like the dial that I was never able to read for the air conditioner tests. My fluctuating dial reading had not improved with time. All of this required precision: precise dial reading, precise temperature, precise weights, precise times, and so forth. Concentration and repetition, every sample exactly the same. Of course, I was no good at it and I hated it.

I liked my boss OK, but my boss didn't like me. At any rate, he trained me and then left on vacation. It's these abilities that will enable you to make peace with imperfection. They embody the practical application of becoming more metaphysically secure. And they are what you can hope to improve on through working toward overcoming your habits of demanding perfection. This involves replacing those self-destructive habits with habits that promote these more adaptive, constructive abilities. Indeed, building your new positive habits can make the difference between living relatively stress-free in confronting the ups-and-downs of life, versus living with constant, needless stress. It is really exciting to experience the change! Establishing those metaphysically secure habits involves improving your ability to both intellectually and emotionally accept the imperfections of reality, which requires practice. Meet the Guiding Virtues! Reflective prayer (as opposed to "Help! God, save me!") is also very helpful to "tap the brake" and slow down your brain and body. We'll discuss spiritual interventions for anxiety in more depth later, but a simple way to employ prayer is to close your eyes and intentionally recall the times God has been faithful to you or carried you through a difficult time. Take a moment to praise God for these things. Your heart won't be in it at first, but that's okay. It's what Saint Paul called a "sacrifice of praise" (Heb 13:15), and it helps to remind you of the fact that if God has been present to you so many different times in the past, he isn't going to fail you now. It also reminds you of all the other times you were sure your life was going to irreparably fall apart, but miraculously it didn't. Over the past two decades we have seen a growing body of research that indicates volunteering provides individual health benefits in addition to social benefits. This research has established a strong relationship between volunteering and health: those who volunteer have lower mortality rates, greater functional ability, and lower rates of depression later in life than those who do not volunteer. Comparisons of the health benefits of volunteering for different age groups have also shown that older volunteers are the most likely to receive greater benefits from volunteering, whether because they are more likely to face higher incidence of illness or because volunteering provides them with physical and social activity and a sense of purpose at a time when their social roles are changing.