Why “Do your best, then relax” doesn’t work, and what does

When I was a kid, I got hooked on a song from the Disney film “the Happiest Millionaire.”

It’s called “Fortuosity.”

In the movie, a happy-go-lucky guy dances around and sings about how “My philosophy is do your best, and leave the rest to fortuosity.”

The message of the song is simple: “Do the best you can, and have faith about everything else.”

I remember I really loved that idea when I first heard the song.

But even as a kid I remember thinking, “How do I do that? How do I do my best and have faith about everything else?”

It’s a great deal — with a catch

It certainly sounds like a good bargain:

If you

  • do your best, then you
  • get permission to relax and have faith in the Divine (by whatever name you call it) to take care of the rest.

“Just do your best and leave the rest to fortuosity.”

But there’s that catch…

But it’s a deal with a catch… And the catch is this:

You rarely really know, with certainty, that you did your best.

And if you don’t really know that you did your best, the whole deal falls apart.

If you’re going to do your best so you can relax and have faith, you actually have to achieve “doing your best.”

And it turns out that asking yourself “Did I really do my best?” is a great way to drive yourself crazy … Because you can always find a way in which you probably could have done what you did even better.

Because you never really know you did your best, you don’t get to “just relax and trust.” You just get more tension as you strive to do your best “good enough,” so you can finally relax.

“The Deal” has it exactly backwards

The fundamental problem is this:

The deal that life offers isn’t “Do your best, and then you can relax and have faith about the rest.”

The actual deal is “Relax and have faith. Then you’ll be able to do your best.”

It’s a completely different approach… and it has a completely different result.

You can’t do your best from a poor state of mind

If you are feeling unsupported in life, alone, or afraid, you’ll inevitably set the bar for “doing your best” impossibly high. That’s because when you are upset you confuse doing “your best” with “doing everything so well that I finally feel safe in life, once and for all.”
Fundamentally what you’re saying is “I’ll be perfect, then I’ll be able to feel good inside.”

And that’s exactly backwards.

You have to care for your heart first

You need to say, “I’ll care for my heart first, so I feel good inside. Then I’ll discover what I’m moved to do in the external world.”

Once you’ve cared for your heart, you’ll

  • be in your best state of mind
  • be authentically you
  • feel faith, feel taken care of, and
  • feel in the current of Divine Love and Mercy.

And from that state, you won’t need to make any deals about “doing your best” so you can finally relax. You’ll automatically know when you need to strive, and when you can let go and relax.

The state of your heart = the state of your life

I know I’m always on about “caring for your heart first.” That’s because I want these posts to be a constant inspiration and reminder for you to look to and care for your self in every situation.

We live in a world that does not value taking care of your heart. I don’t have to tell you that. But if you really want to actually enjoy your life — not to mention live it well, and have the best chance of achieving what you care about — you have to be one of the people who goes against the crowd and who makes it a priority to care for the state of your heart.

As I’m fond of saying on this blog, “the state of your heart equals the state of your life.” Please take that seriously. It’s my hope that these posts help you start to see that every situation is one in which the state of your heart is important.

Many people go through life disconnected from their Source of Mercy, so they inflict merciless lives on themselves. Or, like in the case of “do your best, then you can relax,” they wait to achieve some sort of perfection before they open to Divine nurturance.

But the Source doesn’t say “perfect yourself then open to Love.” If anything, the Source says “open to Love and be perfected.” There is mercy for the hearts of those who look. I suggest you go to that mercy first.

Related Posts

The fundamental mistake of losing heart

How to get back in touch with your motivation

The “healing examples” video on the coaching page

Maybe you shouldn’t jump off a cliff

How to be the “empty cup” that calls forth compassion and healing

Self-Compassion: Healing’s Secret Ingredient


About Dmitri


  1. Fawn Bilgere says:

    This is absolutely brilliant. In my perfectionism I often flagellate myself: “Work harder! Strive harder!” before I’ll open to any mercy. Not even the step-back-and-rest that would allow me to gain perspective, reinvigorate, or at the least love myself and appreciate what I’ve already done.

    And it’s true–in those times of desperation, I *do* set the bar impossibly high.

    Dmitri, thanks for gently reminding me to be easier on myself. To open to God’s love and mercy, that may power me through whatever else I have to do–or show me that my own ideas of what there is to do aren’t necessarily accurate anymore!
    To live life in the state of Divine love from the outset–”a priori”–rather than “a posteriori,”=as a result of actions that might make me “deserving” of Love and Mercy. Isn’t that what Jesus came to show us? God’s Love is here FIRST! We don’t have to DO anything to deserve it–indeed, it’s so big and huge, there’s nothing we COULD do to deserve it. Lucky us. It’s already here for us.

    It’s so difficult to remember when caught up in the rush of “getting things done.” But it’s true, I do get my best work done when I am acting out of enthusiasm and gratitude, rather than anxiety and self-punishment.

    It’s difficult to remember, but oh so worth stopping to remember it. And getting the perspective that tells me when yes, I have done my best. “Well done, Fawn. Now rest.”

    Well done, Dmitri. Thank you.

    • Jeremy says:

      Dawn, I can relate to your comments of perfectionism. Isn’t it comforting to know that the Divine doesn’t ask for perfection…He asks for our love:)

      My heart cries out for deeper connection with a loving God which leaves me in a state of “relaxation” as Dmitri explained it.

      Being authentically me is only possible when my “shadow” isn’t controlling my emotions and thoughts. Rather, when the light, in my case, the Light of the Holy Spirit, is actively overcoming the shadows in my life and the world – I am filled with purpose, faith, joy, meaning, and mercy.

      Thank you for being authentically you and taking care of your heart – the temple of God’s Spirit!


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