Chasing Perfection

When I say the word perfection what comes to mind? What do you consider perfect? Is perfection important in your life? Are you looking to achieve perfection in what you do? Is anything ever perfect?

I was recently thinking about these things. I’ve always had a need to do things well and chase perfection. I tend to be a harsh judge of myself and others in this regard.  I’m impatient and want everything to happen now. Viva 70 is eight weeks old now and I’m a novice blogger and user of social media but as Freddie Mercury sang “I want it all……. and I want it now!” I feel disheartened some days because my growth and that of Viva seem slow. Other days I feel blessed to have found something new that stretches, reshapes me and sparks new learning and friendships.

Chasing perfection has consequences. We see a beautiful misty dawn and feel blessed. We look at babies and we see perfection. We notice a sunset, garden, painting or listen to sublime music and we witness perfection. Perfection does exist in our estimation and it usually results in joy and a stirring in the soul.

When it comes to judging our own work or actions we are usually uncomfortable with notions of perfection.  We don’t want to appear to others to be self -absorbed and braggadocios. Our work can be good but anything more than this and we squirm. We can look great but are we ever perfect? We can act kindly but are our actions and behaviours ever perfect?

What might a healthy relationship with perfection look like? Vince Lombardi says, “Perfection is not attainable but if we chase perfection we can catch excellence.”

 If perfection means there is no room for improvement then few things in life are indeed perfect. Excellence may be the end goal for most of our actions.

Leonard Cohen wrote “There is a crack, a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in.”

Chasing perfection may be a futile task and acceptance of imperfection as a way to grow and learn may be a healthier attitude. Most of what we do will not be perfect but it can be excellent. Our beauty is not perfect and our acceptance of ageing and wrinkles are the story of our lives. Relationships are never perfect but they can be excellent and provide the love and friendship that nurture our souls.

Finally Aristotle wrote” Pleasure in the job puts perfection in the work.”

We do well at what we enjoy and we find fulfilment.

We each have our own relationship with the notion of perfection, but here are some thoughts to reflect on

  • Are we tougher judges of ourselves than other people? Why?
  • Can we learn how to be good friends to ourselves and suspend judgment? What would it take
  • Have we recently done a mental stocktake of all the things we have achieved and are proud of?
  • Can we discriminate between those things worthy of effort towards perfection and those things that simply don’t matter and such effort is not useful?

Chasing perfection often does not serve us well. Hoping to be perfect is delusional. Seeing perfection in the things around us is essential for a good life at any age…. What do you think?

Feature image with thanks Patrick Hendry

27 March 2019 | Living Well

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