Why we should not obsess over perfection

An obsession with perfection can destroy our lives. It leaves us unable to accept our own mistakes, unable to accept other people’s mistakes, and unable to accept those unfortunate events that happen in life. Richard Carlson discusses “making peace with imperfection” in Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff. This is extremely useful advice to prevent us from amplifying a small mistake. There is a common and vicious cycle in life: It begins when we do or say something wrong, and then instead of simply acknowledging the mistake and moving on, we enter a state of excessive guilt and despair. We berate ourselves at length for having failed yet again. Alternatively, we may refuse to acknowledge that we even made a mistake, thus entering a state of denial and defensiveness, perhaps even blaming someone else. Neither of these states are useful for correcting the mistake, nor will they stop it from happening again. Like gambling to recover our previous losses, we only make our situation worse.

The fact is, we will make mistakes, and often we will make the same mistakes time and time again. This is OK! We must be patient with ourselves. We must calmly see what led us to make the mistake, and simply try to avoid it in the future. It does not matter how many times we repeat this process.

Making peace with imperfection extends to others as well. We must not expect those around us to be perfect, particularly our close friends or partners. To expect perfection from others is unreasonable, particularly given our own lack of perfection. Furthermore, life is imperfect. Things will go wrong. It may rain on our picnic. We may get sick on vacation. We must learn to accept such things. The world is imperfect, we are imperfect, but that does not mean that all is lost, and it need not stop us from being happy.

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  1. Secret Simon said,

    December 3, 2007 @ 12:17 am

    I agree. I think that learning to accept the various imperfections we come across in our lives – including those of ourselves – can be difficult, but it is vital for our happiness. What we see as imperfections are always present – that is the way of the world. We may take action to change them, but just in the present moment we have to accept that they are there. To do anything less is to be constantly arguing with reality. How can we possibly be happy in such state?

    Many thanks for the comment you left on my blog. An interesting idea you have here.

  2. Administrator said,

    December 3, 2007 @ 6:39 pm

    Yes, absolutely. I also think that acknowledging and accepting imperfections in the world can also help prevent us from becoming too attached – it’s stops us from idealizing things or people too much.

    Thank you for your comments.

  3. Idetrorce said,

    December 16, 2007 @ 5:10 am

    very interesting, but I don’t agree with you

  4. Li Yum said,

    April 11, 2008 @ 2:00 am

    well every time I meet people here, I’m sure they are very young and don’t know what to say, that’s why they write weird stuff

  5. spiritual said,

    August 24, 2013 @ 3:20 am

    It is perfect time to make some plans for the future and it’s time to be happy. I have learn this post and if I may just I wish to counsel you some interesting issues or tips. Maybe you could write next articles referring to this article. I desire to read more things about it!

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