A friend of mine once went to choose a puppy from among 5. One among them was limping and was almost crawling to reach the food bowl. He selected the one with that blemish in the leg. He took this puppy home. The puppy slowly grew up into a wonderful loving dog. Are we attuned to close our eyes and accept the defects and inadequacies around us?
There is an art form using computer programming to draw a shape with some deliberate deformities. Mat Pearson in his book ‘Generative Art’ shows us examples of imperfect circles, where the imperfection has been added through the algorithm. The imperfection can be subtle, but it is enough to make the image appear to be hand-drawn. Although the images are quite simple you would find them quite attractive. Such inspiration for the imperfect way to draw a circle made a thrilling impact on viewers and it added to their aesthetic sense.
Why we should like imperfection?
Look at this wonderful world. It is full of imperfections. On the side of a brook we see pebbles all of different sizes and shapes. Have you ever thought if you were to see all these precise in shape it would not have offered such a feast to the eyes! Take a flower and have a look at the petals. They are all different in shape and texture adding to its beauty. In traditional Japanese aesthetics, Wabi-sabi is a world view centered on the acceptance of transience and imperfection. The aesthetic is sometimes described as one of beauty that is not permanent and incomplete.
Recipe for happiness
If you want to be happy and contented, you have to scale down expectations to a reasonable level from that unrealistically high eclectic ideal standard which can never be possibly met.
You need to have an ability to be happy with things although it is not that perfect, condoning the defects, blemishes, and flaws whatsoever. We must realize that perfectionism is a mirage in the desert; nearer we go it vanishes in thin air.
Life rarely works out exactly as per our exact computer plan. Let it be home, school or factory, things do go astray and people fail. What we get may be different from what we had imagined. We never touch the goals the way we wanted to touch. No heart burning required for this. It is all natural happening every day in human lives. That’s the way this world is made. And many a time, in order to fully enjoy this life and to be happy, we need to ignore the shortcomings and inadequacies like that friend who chose the lame puppy. We learn to accept and be more content with how things as they are, irrespective of what perfect circle you had drawn that of the world and the ideal unrealistic concepts you nursed.
There is a good number of perfectionists in this world at all times. No shortage for this creed anytime. They make life miserable not only for themselves but also for those around. They are perfect bombardiers of happiness and they are always immersed in feelings of regret, tension, anger, resentment, discontent, and dissatisfaction. Their constant lookout is for only what is simply the best and perfect rendering it a foolhardy exercise. Psychologists define it as the “maximizing mindset,” and it’s a dangerous approach.
We, of course, have a tendency to choose the best and perfect things everywhere. Nonetheless, we need to be practical to accept imperfect things in any given scenario.
Full circle – in families
Looking for a 100% excellent behavior from family members is dangerous. Although we know we ourselves are not that perfect why should we expect perfection? Many people invite disturbances in relationships in this manner. Many experts in Social Psychology continue to warn us that seeking a situation all fine and perfect can hurt our relationships.
Romantic couples enter into relationships feeling as Laila Majnu or a God created pair. But they fail in a relationship unless they learn to forgive each other for their shortcomings and inadequacies. They need to appreciate the stark realities and accept the human fallacies of the spouse.
All along life’s journey, a more practical approach and realistic and accepting mindset prepare us for the happy sailing. Everyone needs to prepare themselves for sometimes grim realities of life rather than living in delusion. Life is far from what we see in movies or read in fiction.
Perfectionism in the work environment
Perfection mania influences the speed and efficiency of your work and disrupts the work schedule. If your urge is for an unreasonable level of standard of perfection you could be spending much more unnecessary time thereby reducing the output. Another corollary problem there is that you are more likely to procrastinate.
When we have a perfectionist approach, it’s really hard to pass through our own test and move to the next stage. We see sometimes workers constantly trying out things, sweating over every trivial detail, and working overtime until they can safely pronounce themselves that they are finally satisfied. Although this attitude at times is a welcome attribute, most of the time it could invite problems. Perfectionism can also lead to “work holism and resultant stress, fatigue, and insomnia.
Want to look like that cine hero or heroine?
We usually compare our physical appearances and looks to the idols we find in movies, and advertisements. This can lead us to place ourselves on a high ground often forgetting that the stars are not real. They appear before a camera with a lot of makeup and probably after plastic surgery. Trying to attain a cute look and acceptability similar to that is silly and it will certainly lead us to disappointment and frustration.
We have seen that the quest for perfectionism can destroy our happiness and tarnish life in many different ways. It’s a dangerous and deterrent attitude that we have to nip in the bud. Let us have a look at our daily life and introspect whether we are reasonable in our search for fullness.
Throw away ideas of full circle
Craving for perfect things is a part of our approach to life and rightfully so. But we have to be flexible. The best way is to let go the urge for undue preference for perfection Take care to start building a new approach and mindset towards life.
Realize this most of the truly happy and successful people who walked on this earth were never perfectionists. They understood perfectly well the world and the people around may fall short of their expectations any given time and we have to move ahead with them.
Never be disheartened
Neapolitan was 5’2’’ a short height for an officer but he never felt inadequate. Jesus built his faith circle with just a dozen ordinary people most of which were mere fishermen. So it’s not about being the best, but trying your best. That’s why they say no single event in the past defines you. Move forward. Never worry about shortcomings and inadequacies.
Take this is just one small step in changing your thinking to a more reasonable mindset. With constant practice, our approach will change. This positive way of thinking will begin to permeate through our daily life.
Whenever you take up a task never get obsessed over the quality of the final product. Take comfort in whatever you have done and try harder to improve. But never get obsessed. No harm you can challenge yourself in a positive and productive manner to achieve higher standards.
We have seen perfectionism is a great menace in our pursuit of growth and happiness. It pulls us backward and leaves us in a den of disappointment despair and dissatisfaction. To be genuinely happy, we mould up ourselves, say goodbye to our unrealistically high expectations and perfectionist approach towards life.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Jose Vazhuthanapilly, Bsc., LLB, DBM, CAIIB retired in 2008 as AGM from State Bank of India. He had worked as a visiting faculty in the Bank’s Staff Training Centers for 5 years. He is a writer with 20 books to his credit including books on self-help/ psychology. He resides in Ernakulam, Kochi. He is active also in social service. He can be contacted at Josevazhuthanapilly@gmail.com
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