Known Your Enemy -Why Perfect is the Enemy of Good.
With the advent of social media, we are inundated with images of smiling
families, beautiful homes, shiny cars, spectacular vacations, stunning meals, fitness accomplishments and in short what can seem like a perfect life. All those idealized images can lead to internal comparisons of our own lives. This in turn can result in a sense of not doing enough, having enough, or being enough.
For some people this motivates them to do more, to accomplish more, and achieve more. They see the accomplishments of others and take it as a challenge to stop up their own game.
For those who are more self-aware it may have no impact at all. They realize that people tend to put their best foot forward and post the most positive images of themselves publicly. So really, what other people’s life may, or may not, look like it is no reflection on them at all.
But for many people, comparison to others can lead to discouragement, depression, a sense of hopelessness, or even apathy. The feeling that they are not accomplishing what they think they should be is so disheartening that is can almost immobilize them. If they can’t do it “right” or “properly” it seems hopeless, and they may even feel it is pointless to try at all. Why start what they can’t finish so to speak.
So what if you are one if the individuals who feel discouraged by what you see in your own world? How do you manage those feelings? And what do you do to feel more satisfied with your life?
Well start by knowing your enemy.
Voltaire wrote in 1726 “Le mieux est le mortel ennemi du bien" which, according to Wikipedia, translates to “The better is the mortal enemy of the good”.
What makes us think that the better, or perfection, that idealized image of what life should be like, is the best option. Might an imperfect life perhaps be the healthier alternative?
What if instead of being so concerned about everything being great how about if we focused on more things being good?
What if the bed isn’t made but you got out for a walk. The kitchen isn’t clean, but the kids had a blast playing with you outside. The garden isn’t perfectly weed free, but the strawberries are delicious.
How much good are we missing out on in the pursuit of better or perfect?
A walk three evenings a week isn’t running a 5K but it is far better than totally inactivity. Pizza delivery isn’t plant based organic made from scratch but serve it with a fresh tossed salad and it’s a relatively balanced meal. You may not manage a tropical holiday twice a year but those day trips to a lake will be remembered fondly by your kids forever. Your lawn and garden may not be immaculate, but the flowers and produce will be beautiful and delicious.
I take the position that I will not miss out on the good for the sake of the better. Gravity will hold down the laundry. The weeds may or may not get pulled a few at a time as I walk by, but my garden will still bring me joy. Every meal I make will have one thing I forget to cook entirely, and one I burn beyond recognition, but the rest will be delicious. And kids are welcome to draw in my dust, I only ask that they don’t date their work.
I no longer focus on the perfect and pay more attention to the good. This has brought less stress, more happiness, and a far less ‘give a darn attitude’.
Weed for 15 minutes and then let the rest will wait until another day. If the laundry forgotten in the washer gets rewashed it will just be extra clean. And the dishes…well those will always be with us and that’s ok because there are better things to do sometimes.
So don’t worry about what others are doing or posting on social media.
Let go of the ideal. Forget the better. Release the pressure of perfection.
Don’t let perfect get in the way of good.
Because let me assure you the good is great.
Wikipedia contributors. (2022, June 19). Perfect is the enemy of good. In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 16:16, July 24, 2022, from https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Perfect_is_the_enemy_of_good&oldid=1093965504