We tend to define perfection as the absence of flaws, which is inherently wrong, since flaws are part of the reality. Too often, our perception of perfection as a flawless situation or individual proved to be not only difficult to learn, but plain wrong and deceivable. Striving for perfection causes more harm than good, leading into a land of frustration, weariness and misery.
Defining something by the absence of something else is a mindset of incompletion, a hedonistic and fearful approach. It’s hedonistic because we try to isolate only the “good” things from the whole, and it’s fearful because we do that by fear of the other, “bad” side. Choosing only one side of the coin is useless and ineffective. You can’t have a full coin if you chose only one side of it.
On the other hand, being just better assumes you know your flaws and accept them. You’re just getting better, not perfect. You’re embracing your whole structure. Not seldom, what you considered to be “flaws” are just violent pointers for a path you refuse to see or to take. What you may call “flaw” is in fact just an open window for another reality, usually much better than the current one.
Dry Future versus Rich Present
When you move your focus from your current reality and projecting it into a future, flawless reality in which you are perfect, you are depriving yourself from the only precious tool you have: your present time. When you step out of the living second and project yourself into a dry future you’re not actually living to the full. Whenever you strive for perfection you step out from the current time space continuum and try to insert into another, illusory one.
Whenever you strive for getting better, you’re in the present moment. You have to continuously assess your progress, you have to keep your focus on what you’re doing. If you had goals, you have to constantly check if you reached them. And if you did, you have to evaluate your options and set up the next goals. When you chose to become better, you never get out of your current time space continuum. Your present is real. And is rich.
Destination Oriented versus Traveling Oriented
When you strive for perfection you’re destination oriented: your goal is to attain a certain state, a flawless situation in which you are perfect. When you strive for being better you’re traveling oriented: your goal is not so much the destination, which changes continuously, but the travel itself.
I find much more joy by traveling than by arriving to a certain destination. As long as the current destination is also the departure point for my next trip, I can understand and I enjoy it. But if my final destination is reached, that means it’s the end of the travel. My trip has to stop. Which I simply don’t want to happen. I enjoy the trip much too much.
Focus On Bad vs Focus On Good
Striving for perfection is such a wearing attitude, it really drains you out. In fact, striving for perfection is quite a negativistic approach, if you look carefully. Since we define perfection as the absence of flaws, when we strive for perfection we focus on eliminating our flaws. Hence, we focus on flaws, instead of things we can improve.
Striving to be better is a fulfilling attitude, it fuels your body and mind. Striving for the better is focusing on the positive side. By accepting your flaws as part of your inherent nature, focusing on becoming better forces you to focus on your positive qualities and start enhancing what you already have an can grow.
The Dumbo Paradigm
I guess you all know by now the famous Dumbo cartoon. For those living on planet Mars in the last 50 years, Dumbo is the touching story of a baby elephant which had a big problem: huge ears. So huge that it actually had integration problems in his environment, a circus. His mother had to defend him from picky boys saying bad things about it, the other workers in the circus were also bothered by the little cub which only use seemed to be a very dangerous leap into a bucket filled with water, and nothing more. That little elephant with those incredibly big ears was no good even in a circus. Dumbo was tainted by his flaw: those huge and almost obscene ears.
But after the little elephant touches the bottom of his sorrow, with a little help from his friends, stumble upon a great discovery. His ears are so big that it can actually… fly! Right, those ears are so big that it can become a flying mammal just by flipping them. His biggest flaw has become the trampoline for his biggest success. The cartoon ends with a happy image of Dumbo flying all over the country above its personal tour train.
There is much to be learned from this story, and I do intend to write another blog post about it, but for now I’ll just say that Dumbo became better not because he tried to eliminate his flaw, but because he accepted it and made the best out of it. Dumbo focused on becoming better not perfect. If Dumbo would have been a perfect elephant, I really doubt that Disney would have made a cartoon about it.
Perfection is boring. Getting better is where all the fun is.