99.9% Perfect

Perfection is hard to attain and impossible to sustain so for those who pursue it we are constantly setting ourselves up for failure. What is it about giving ourselves permission to be less than perfect that we struggle with? Is it the fear of being judged by others? That niggling doubt that everyone is better than us so we must therefore try harder?

Try harder
Climb by Efren courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons licensed by CC BY-SA 2.0

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Being a perfectionist is exhausting. You are caught in a never ending loop of striving to achieve whether it be the perfect outfit, the perfect house, holiday or job. Take your pick. A perfectionist can drive themselves nuts arranging a bunch of flowers quickly forgetting the beauty of the individual blooms, focusing only on their own inability to get the flowers to look ‘just right’. Chances are anyone visiting would see the flowers and think how wonderful they looked but our own perception is forever skewed by the battle we had arranging them. We beat ourselves up for not achieving our own ridiculously high standards.

Tattered and tornjpg
Tattered and Torn by Becca courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons licensed by CC BY-ND 2.0

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The moments when perfection is attained are so brief that the pleasure we derive from them is fleeting. How much better it would be if we could learn to find harmony and beauty in the less than perfect. It’s okay to strive for perfection but how much better it would be to take pleasure in something even if it falls a little short.

Perfectionists would be wise to study the Japanese tradition of Wabi Sabi – the art of appreciating beauty in an imperfect world. It embraces three simple realities: nothing lasts, nothing is finished and nothing is perfect (Richard Powell – Wabi Sabi Simple).

The much loved but chipped vase is wabi sabi. The plant that refuses to be symmetrical is wabi sabi. You and I are wabi sabi.

Wabi sabi
Wabi-Sabi by Kelly Teague courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons licensed by CC BY-SA 2.0

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So instead of trying to make everything bend to our will, propagating our own particular brand of perfectionism why not step beyond the confines of the perfect. Life is wabi sabi and always will be so we may as well get used to it. How much easier it would be to live in harmony with an imperfect world by appreciating it for what it is instead of disliking it for what it isn’t and never will be.

Imperfect
Imperfect by Seaternity courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons licensed by CC BY-SA 2.0

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2 thoughts on “99.9% Perfect

  1. kjw616 06/07/2016 / 12:43 pm

    I have learned that trying to strive for perfection often makes me lose site of the larger purpose. An example was when I was trying to arrange a reunion with a cousin I had not seen in years. He was on vacation not far from my home, so we agreed to meet at a restaurant–my choice. I spent hours trying to find the perfect restaurant, and then realized the purpose was the meeting and not the eating. I was causing myself unnecessary stress. If only I had just known about wabi sabi sooner.

    Like

    • ellieholmesauthor 07/07/2016 / 1:08 pm

      We’ve all been there, letting the little details get on top of us. It’s good to be able to stand back and get some perspective. I remind myself about the wabi sabi way of thinking whenever I can feel my stress levels rising and more often than not it works.

      Like

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