hey, i’m going to analyze a quote now

22 Aug

I am a big fan of The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin and follow her blog regularly.  Her book and posts have definitely been an inspiration for me to become more conscious about actively working on being happy and have really influenced me in a lot of ways.  Every day Gretchen sends a “Moment of Happiness” quote to her followers and these are always thought-provoking and often resonate with me.

One of the quotes that landed in my inbox recently really struck a chord.

Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good – Voltaire

I’ve heard this before but reading it again at this time in my life really hit me.  I am guilty of this SO often and it can be absolutely damaging.  On the less heavy side of things, this past weekend I was trying out a new recipe in preparation for a brunch I was hosting for my family on Sunday.  I messed part of it up a little so I knew it wouldn’t come out perfectly.  Instead of saying ‘ ya know what? this is my first time trying this out and it will still probably be pretty good, anyway’ what do I do? I take the dough I’m using, ball it up and throw it against the wall of the kitchen.

SO I know that seems kind of extreme but it is literally what happened.  When I reflected on my actions later, I realized that my over the top frustration was a result of the upcoming lack of absolute perfection in my end product and the high and ridiculous standards I hold myself to.

While many folks out there probably wouldn’t go so far as to fling food across a room (I feel BIG, what can I say?), I’d imagine others have some of these general sentiments within themselves at times, too.  The scary thing is that this frame of mind can be so limiting beyond just puff pastry.  Take another example: I’ve been wanting to get back to writing fiction, something I adored years ago, but I think my personal high standards are preventing me from doing so.  I won’t like what I write.  I don’t have the time to make what I write absolutely perfect so I won’t even bother starting.  I’d never be able to show anyone because anything I write would be so crappy and contrived so what’s the point?  These thoughts (conscious or subconscious – to be honest, I didn’t consciously know I had some of these thoughts until I began typing out that list…) are preventing me from doing something that might bring me joy.  So what if I never show anyone? So what if what I write is terrible?  By believing it won’t be perfect I am holding myself back from doing something that could just be “okay” or even “good”– and in this case “good” might just be adding “good-ness” to my own life with something I find pleasurable.  Shouldn’t that be enough?

If I sat here long enough I could probably come up with countless (some more embarrassing than the food throwing) examples where striving for perfection has crippled my desire and commitment to try something, achieve something…let alone something that was “just” good.

I know none of this is brand new (hello, Voltaire) but imperfection can SO be our enemy that I find it worth reflecting on what it might be keeping us from trying, doing, seeing or dreaming.  And, of course, the next step is taking action against that.

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