Are you missing your opportunities for happiness without even realizing it? Are there a lot of areas of your life that just are not good enough? Are you postponing happiness until your project, your job, or your life is exactly where you want it to be?
In their book Happiness, Ed Diener and Robert Biswas-Diener identify perfectionism as one of several thinking pitfalls that leave people feeling bad. They point out that perfectionism often leads to pointing out the details of what went wrong vs. the big picture of what went right. Our accomplishments and small successes get lost in the list of things that did not go right. Many people miss out on celebrating the small successes because they are waiting for everything to go perfectly. As long as they know the results could have been better, it is not yet a success or accomplishment. The challenge is, that time never comes, which means very little celebration, which severely limits your opportunity for positive feelings and increasing happiness. Marnie Winston-Macauley in her article, Perfection vs. Good Enough, explained that perfection is results-driven while good enough is effort driven. We can control how much effort we put forth, but we can’t always control the results. Often there are other factors that come into play. Since we are human, being perfect is impossible.
Perfectionism creates expectations that are always over the horizon–expectations we think we are moving toward, but always seem just out of reach. Good enough enables us to forgive ourselves for our mistakes and shortcomings and celebrate the things that did go right. It gives us something to build on. Good enough provides us a positive feeling that we are making progress and lets us believe that we can accomplish even more. We can increase our happiness if we take the time to stop and think about our accomplishments and successes. If we try to be perfect, we may spend that time thinking about the details that did not go right, rather than the tiny successes we can build on.
Take time to celebrate your imperfect successes. Feel the positive emotions and happiness that come from your accomplishments. Try to be a little better after you have appreciated how far you have come. If we want to be successful and happy, then being a little better is better than being perfect.
“I don’t know a perfect person. I only know flawed people who are still worth loving.” ― John Green