Why we don’t want perfection, but rather true quality, the very good goodenough

by Laura Patton-Van Buskirk, PsyD

So, it is not uncommon that we overhear someone saying or referencing how an individual is “perfect,” or at least appears to be so. It is actually human nature to compare upward, a social psychological phenomenon. Fair enough. True enough.

Is it helpful?

In many circumstances… Not so much.

Given the social media world in which we live, we well know (and perhaps at times too well) people who appear perfect, in an ideal relationship, or as having it all, actually don’t experience their own lives this way. So how do we find a place in which we have the opportunity, the good chance to be in a good place if these measurements lack?

I think, perhaps, a good analogy is the grade point average—yes I am going back to a fundamental. Perfect is a 4.0 (on a non-weighted scale for honor’s classes, so let’s just go with 4.0). Most of us are acquaintances with at least someone who achieved this at some point. There is no question this is an admirable accomplishment. Was it worth it? Often to that person it was, it held personal importance to him or her and is akin to completing a first marathon, a mountain to be climbed. Is it a good fit for everyone? Unquestionably not.

When we set goals, make lifestyle choices, we want them to be ones that fit us personally. I often tell my college students that 4.0s are great. However, I also hope that everyone had a surprise visit by a best friend and didn’t study as much for a test after staying up all night, a topic or professor who just didn’t make it interesting enough, or took enough risk in love and passion of any type, that at some point, the living kept one or two grades from being an A. The living needs to in itself have value.

Accomplishment is fantastic, but accomplishment for one person

in one area

of the thankfully multiple areas of life and living is not necessarily the one you need.

So… Choose those things you value, do them well, goodenough that you enjoy, feel some pride, but have balance and opportunity for more living.

A good goodenough is a fine thing to be relished.

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