You can be perfect or you can be happy
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“We never taste happiness in perfection; our most fortunate successes are mixed with sadness.|”
- Pierre Corneille.
If you ever find time to go on youtube, search for Matthew McConaughey’s video titled “This is why you are not happy”; and Tompswell’s video, “happiness.” These videos and many others like them have valuable lessons to teach about chasing perfection and happiness.
The phrase “you can be perfect, or you can be happy” is like saying “you can’t have it all”. It’s either you substitute happiness for perfection or perfection for happiness, which sounds so unfair. Why can’t you have both? Isn’t it possible to be happy and perfect at the same time? Let’s start by understanding the difference between being perfect and being happy before answering other questions you might have about perfection and happiness.
Is perfect & happy the same thing?
Perfect and happy are not the same, but many people see these two concepts as synonymous in our ever-materialistic, competitive and superficial world. We often equate the feeling of happiness to success, wealth, beauty, fame, etcetera, and see people in these categories as living the perfect life. We tend to imagine their happiness; the happiness of people living in luxury and the sadness of people living in ghettos. Or the happiness of CEOs and the sadness of janitors even though our imaginations are wrong.
It is not a given that the person you consider perfect is happy, nor the life you consider perfect would make you happy. If being perfect and happy are not the same thing, what’s the difference?
A few things to note about happiness are;
- Being happy is an emotional response and state. Many experiences could make us happy. For example, birthing a child, playing in the rain, taking cool pictures, joking with friends, perceiving freshly baked bread, picking flowers, watching a child talking into an electric fan, eating our favorite snakes, being married to someone we love, adopting a puppy, winning a game, getting a job, etcetera.
- You can be happy regardless of what you have or don’t have, who you are, and where you are coming from. The poor, rich, young, old, tall, short, fat, thin, pretty, or ugly can all experience happiness regardless of what’s happening in their life.
- The feeling of happiness can be long or short-term.
Short-term happiness is often easy to get. We’ve all experienced short-term happiness. For example, getting a random gift, starting a driving lesson, eating your favorite snacks, and hearing a funny joke, are all experiences that could give us momentary happiness. Some people in China consider having a good sex life as a source of happiness. But are all these experiences enough to sustain a person’s daily happiness? Highly unlikely. Rather, they can contribute to a person’s overall evaluation of being happy in the long term.
Lasting happiness does not come suddenly. It comes from a series of actions and introspections. Generally, people who experience lasting happiness have a sense of satisfaction, contentment, and gratitude for their life. They’ve chosen to have a more positive outlook on life. Lasting happiness does not necessarily stem from what you have or things around you. It comes from within you, and this is reflected in your attitude. However, several experiences could add to our lasting happiness. For example, seeing your child grow and become successful, excelling in your career, achieving your long-term goals, etcetera.
- Being happy is a choice. Being happy does not mean that a person’s life is perfect or that they have everything they want.
- Everyone defines happiness differently. Having lots of money and a curvier body could be a person’s definition of happiness while being able to help people could be another person’s definition of happiness.
“Being happy doesn’t mean everything is perfect. It means that you’ve decided to look beyond the imperfection.”
- Gerard Way.
is reaching a stage of flawlessness which is the Zenith of any development/ evolution. Being perfect is being the standard of what should be. It means that you aspire to get to the level of being the best. Being perfect in most cases does not happen suddenly. It takes a series of refining processes before it happens. For many people, their refining processes come in the form; of trying out new techniques, sleepless nights, excessive traveling, subjecting themselves to critiques/critics, and many more.
There is nothing wrong with aspiring for perfection. There is nothing wrong with pushing oneself to be the best. Aiming to be the best helps us improve our quality of output. You can be perfect in the sense that people consider you to be the best in whatever field you intend to be perfect at.
However, how a person goes about becoming perfect is what matters. So much has been written about perfectionism, and a few things that stand out about people who aim to be perfect are;
- The high expectations they have of themselves make them very critical of themself. They experience a higher level of dissatisfaction with their efforts.
- Their self-consciousness makes them feel shame easily because they usually attach their self-worth to their work. In other words, they are their joy killers, Researchgat.net.
- They’ve been found to experience neuroticism, stress, burnout, and anxiety, which could affect their overall productivity, apa.org.
The above points show how possible it is for a person who aims to be perfect to forgo their happiness.
A common question people ask is, can anyone be perfect? There is the belief that perfection is an illusion and that no one can be perfect. The main reason for this stance is the multifacetedness of perfection. Perfection is multidimensional. While a person might be the best in one area, others could outdo them in other areas. For example, a person might be excellent in their specialty area but is not considered attractive because of their looks or character. Is the person still perfect?
“Strive for continuous improvement, instead of perfection.”
- Kim Collins
Can you be perfect and happy at the same time?
We all desire lasting happiness as much as we desire to be at the top of our game, and it is possible to get our desire. However, what’s important is having realistic definitions of perfection and how we intend to achieve it if we desire to be happy.
If by perfect you mean you want to excel in what you do and still be happy, absolutely. You can be perfect and happy in that sense. But if you mean, can you obsessively pursue something and be happy simultaneously? That’s uncertain. It is up to you to find out what your happiness should feel like and how possible you can attain it if you spend more time pursuing perfection.
Many people see CR7 as perfect and happy; he probably thinks the same of himself. He is one of the best footballers in modern history and has created a huge legacy for himself. He is a successful businessman and, additionally, he is a family man. Does it mean that CR7 doesn’t have flaws? No! Like every other person, he has flaws. But he has many strengths too.
Do CR7’s flaws make him imperfect? Yes, if we look at perfect in the true sense of what it means. Nobody is perfect. There is always something to improve about ourselves, and there are things about us other people will consider imperfect.
But why should perfect mean flawless to you when people’s definition of flawless differs? It is up to you to define what is perfect.
How can I be perfect and happy?
If being perfect is equally as important as being happy, you must strike a balance when pursuing them. Below are a few tips on what to do if you aspire for perfection and if you wish to have lasting happiness.
How you can be perfect (attaining excellence)
How you can be happy
“Your deepest, most perfect happiness will be found within, and once you find it, nothing exterior to yourself can destroy it.”
- Neale Donald Walsch
Are perfect people happy?
Before discussing if perfect people are happy briefly, we need you to do two things;
- Identify one or two people you see as perfect and ask yourself why you see them as perfect.
- Truthfully ask yourself if other people with similar things or qualities you’ve listed are happy?
It is not a given that people you consider perfect (if any) are happy. True happiness is more of a choice than what’s happening around you. However, we do agree that many experiences can enhance our overall feeling of happiness.
Whatever you consider perfect, always remind yourself that there are people who have those things and are not happy. For example, some wealthy people are unhappy for many reasons. It could be because of broken relationships, loneliness, lack of excitement, etcetera. Some people tick all the beauty standard boxes and yet are not happy with themselves.
“Never go behind perfection; find happiness in what you have.”
- Sushmitha Shetty.
You can be happy without being perfect. There is no guarantee that you’ll find happiness in being perfect. But there are high chances you will find happiness in doing things you love and excelling at them.
there are some valuable lessons we want you to pick up from everything we’ve written in this article;
- Perfection is not static; it evolves. Things and people are constantly being refined. What may be perfect today will need to be modified tomorrow. This is one reason why it is impossible to tag anyone as perfect. What is attainable is excellence. You can be excellent.
- There is no guarantee that you’ll be happy if you become what you consider perfect.
- You can be happy and still be at the top of your game. However, you need to learn to strike a balance between the two.
- Lasting happiness is not gotten from anything exterior; however, our experiences can enhance our feeling of happiness or sadness.
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