When I ponder about perfection, the words of Salvador Dali echo inside my head,
“Have no fear of perfection, you’ll never reach it.”
The thoughts about perfection and the hype surrounding it are not baseless. Our conditioning since childhood has been to run behind perfection.
This chase has come to define our very existence. We are now standing at a point where perfection is all we seek. It is all that we see in people, places, objects, food, and life. We seek perfect food, perfect partners, perfect clothes and perfect life. Seeking perfection in a completely imperfect world is asking for trouble.
Speaking of perfection brings to my mind the Harry Potter series.
“Harry, there is never a perfect answer in this messy, emotional world. Perfection is beyond the reach of magic. In every shining moment of happiness is that drop of poison: the knowledge that pain will come again.”
Dumbledore had a point here when he spoke about perfection. Perfection is a like a black hole. None can catch it, travel through it or define it. Perfection almost never comes to us. Yet we spend a lifetime in its pursuit.
We are all living our lives in a magical world.
We live out the grandest of dreams.
We use our imaginary magic wands to cast spells around us.
We do this in the hope that somehow, someday things would go our way.
We make use of magical spells to take us out of troubles. One of these spells is the often used – Expecto perfectum.
This spell roughly translates to ‘I wait for perfection’.
This is where we lose the battle of life. This spell is our undoing. When we start casting spells of Expecto Perfectum with a feeble will, it gives us nothing. A disastrous magic spell, a cracked determination, a fragile mind and a blurred vision. The recipe for a life full of suffering is all set.
In a research report published in 2007, researchers made a shocking revelation. They conducted interviews with the friends and family members of people who had recently killed themselves. The loved ones described more than half of the deceased as perfectionists. Placing high expectations of oneself and high demands is a common trait in people.
In fact, the research states the contrary. It says that successful people in any field are less likely to be a perfectionist. This is where the difference comes between perfectionism and the pursuit of excellence. The former links with anxiety whereas the latter talks about a driving force.
Then, the question which arises is that what should we do about it?
Or can we do anything about it?
To answer this question, we need to look at bringing about a change in our perspectives. Changing the way, we look at things and the way we carry out actions, is key.
It is clear that we must stop using Expecto Perfectum and stop letting it rule our lives.
In this regard, here are three ways in which you can move from chasing perfection to excellence.
When we speak about forgiveness, we’re not talking about other people in one’s life.
Forgiveness is that and much more. It is important to learn that not everything in life is going to go our way. There will be times when things go wrong. There will be times when all efforts will be in vain. The only positive action we can take is to keep forgiving ourselves. Such a mindset helps in letting go of all the negativity and bad vibes residing inside us.
Forgiveness also brings us closer to being mortal and human.
Action is what drives life. Everywhere we look, everything around is in constant action. Look at the microscopic organisms, they’re in constant activity. The birds, the trees, the wind, the planets, the stars and the cosmos – all suspended in continued activity.
Life ceases to exist without action. A human life is incomplete and undefined without action.
The pursuit of perfection results in loss/reduction in action. Hence, it becomes imperative to lead life by action.
Life is a long chain of actions which requires repetition. Through repetition comes consistency. This leads to discipline which in turn leads to uncontaminated happiness.
It’s like breathing. The secret to living life is quite simple – keep breathing. Breathing itself is a cyclical and continuous process.
Breaking free from the clutches of perfectionism involves realization. You must realize that you are in a prison to actually be able to come out of it. Hence, stating it directly, Leo Tolstoy sums this up perfectly:
“If you look for perfection, you’ll never be content.”