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February 2, 2013

Perfection? Who Said Anything about Perfection?

Three ways we rob ourselves of happiness.

Somewhere along the way, we let perfection get the best of us. We got caught up in its appeal and found ourselves lost in self-doubt and exhaustion.

We all have our own idea of what perfection is, and this can keep us in a perpetual wheel of dissatisfaction.

Our dreams of the perfect life can pull us forward. They can move us and give us hope of what our futures might look like. But, perfection itself? Not real. It’s mythological.

Perfection doesn’t exist in the orchestrated daydreams we confine our hopes to. It exists in the here and now.

Does this sound familiar? “If I had [insert the infinite list here], everything would be perfect.” These are the classic tales we verse ourselves in.

The reality is, when we’re constantly trying to be perfect, we forfeit happiness. We end up losing ourselves in the endless pursuit (always striving for something beyond us) and never feeling truly satisfied.

I’m not saying we shouldn’t have goals that we strive for. Goals are important, because they keep us in momentum—they keep us facing forward. But it’s also important that we love ourselves where we’re at.

Right now, right here in this moment, you’re beautiful. Exactly as you are (and where you are).

I’ve uncovered three big reasons why the “perfection myth” spins the fabric of unhappiness:

1. While focusing on who we want to become, we lose out on who we are.

We lose moments.

Belly laughs, steeped tea in our living rooms, being swept up in a quiet moment, losing our thoughts to a beautiful face, sunlight gracing our cheeks in the summer.

Perfection lies in the imperfect moments woven with insignificant details. This is where true grace can be found.

Don’t rob yourself of the happiness that exists in this moment. Instead of searching for it on the horizon (a poetic way of saying in the future), look for it where you are.

2. When we finally arrive at where we wanted to get, we won’t know it. Our minds will be years ahead of us and our ideas of the future will always outshine the present.

Stay present. If you don’t, it won’t matter what you have, because you won’t be able to fully experience it. If you can’t appreciate what you have now, how will you ever appreciate what’s in front of you?

It’s good to look toward the future, but while we do it we must stay grounded in the present. This moment, right here, is a good place to be, even if it’s not always perfect.

3. We feel like we never have enough time and we’ll never be able to accomplish all the things we want to.

A few years ago, I had an overwhelming list of “To Dos” for my life—or rather, for the year. It included mastering two languages, being a double-honors student, traveling the world twice over, launching a business and writing a book. And do you know where all that landed me? In anxiety land.

Truly, madly, deeply—my pursuit of perfection actually resulted in me having generalized anxiety.

The stress of not being able to accomplish these things took a toll on my sense of self. So much of the “self” I knew existed only as an ideal. If I couldn’t actually follow through (and achieve) these goals, then what was I?

I didn’t realize it at the time, but I was setting myself up for failure (and unhappiness) by expecting myself to be perfect—an unrealistic goal, non?

What’s worse is that I placed all my value in attaining perfection.

So here’s the truth.

Nobody said you have to be perfect (whatever that is, anyway). You don’t have to be everything—you don’t have to have everything—to feel happy.

Where you are right now is okay. No prerequisites necessary.

Deepest love.

 

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Photo: Allen Skyy

 

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