Pursuit of Perfection
On the surface, the pursuit of perfection sounds ideal. However, the impossible acquisition of perfection can ignite many fires of discord. Tal Ben-Shahar, the New York Times bestselling author of The Pursuit of Perfect (McGraw Hill, 2009) explains as we choose to labor under the view of our own perfect expectations and society's tortuous view of perfection -- to look young, to make huge money, and to find permanent happiness -- we often find the very act of the pursuit of perfect may be the number-one internal obstacle to finding fulfillment.
Tal Ben-Shahar describes the freedom that may be derived from not trying to "do it all right all the time," and he details the real lessons that failure and painful emotions can teach us. As professor of the most popular course in Harvard’s history, he has seen the best and the brightest buckle under the pressures of perfectionism.
Tal Ben-Shahar's argues that people are unhappy because they’re caught in “The Myth of Perfection,” a dangerous trend fueling society’s obsession with youth, beauty, money, success, and “having it all.” Ben-Shahar believes we need to be more realistic in our goals, and more accepting of ourselves, to live a richer, fuller, happier life.
Popular Obstacles To Happiness
1. Rejecting Our Failure - not accepting anything short of total goal achievement,
2. Rejecting Our Painful Emotions - not accepting negative feelings that fall short of total happiness,
3. Rejecting Our Success - not allowing time to savor success but almost immediately going onto new, more challenging goals.
Pursuing perfection often creates a real and destructive fear of failure. Elbert Hubbard sums up the fear of failure when he says, "The greatest mistake a man can make is to be afraid of making one." In other words, Ben Shahar echoes Hubbard by saying that we don't have to be perfect to be perfectly happy.