Is the Pursuit of Perfect How to Find Happiness?

Is the pursuit of perfect how to find happiness?

In a new book, The Pursuit Of Perfect, Ben-Shahar¬† identifies two ways of living, whose distinct patterns of behavior provide an important key to our understanding of success and self-fulfillment. They are the Perfectionist and the Optimalist, and there’s a little bit of both in you and me . . .

I once worked for a company whoose CEO was a perfectionist. He regarded excellence as not good enough. Perfection was what was expected. This resulted in many projects taking ten times as long as they needed to be as we became bogged down in the minute details in order to create this state of perfection.  I came to the view that the insistence on perfection was holding back the growth of the company.

Employees lived in fear that their work, though excellent, was judged not good enough because it failed the test of perfection.

So what is the difference between an optimalist and a perfectionist and do any of them give a clue on how to find happiness?

The differences between the two types of people are:

  • The Perfectionist views life’s journey as a straight line. The Optitmalist sees it as an irregular spiral.
  • The Perfectionist is afraid of failure. The Optimalist uses failure as feedback.
  • The Perfectionist is rigid, critical, and defensive. The Optimalist is adaptable, forgiving, and open to suggestion.
  • The Perfectionist focuses on the “destination,” setting goals that are overly ambitious or unobtainable. The Optimalist focuses on the joumey and the destination.

According to Ben-Shahar, we can learn a lot from these types. By rejecting the all-or-nothing thinking of the Perfectionist and embracing the more nuanced, complex mind-set of the Optimalist, we can learn to accept our failures along with our successes — and lead much happier lives.

Which type are you, the perfectionist or the optimalist? The quest for perfection is not the way to find happiness,

For more information on how to be happy download the free book How to Manage Stress and you wil receive a bonus book on how to be happy.

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  1. PJ McClure says:

    What a great perspective on life views. I have never heard the term “optimalist”, but I will certainly use it from now on.

    My experience with perfectionist, myself included, is that we spend more time looking for the negative in a result. When the goal is perfection we focus on finding what is wrong so that it can be fixed, and as a result, we find more wrong than right because our minds are tuned to the negative.

    The optimalist (I love that term) is not necessarily over-optimistic and ignores problems, but they are tuned in to what is right with a scenario. Because the positive resonates with them, they tend to find the best-case or optimum result.

    Thanks for the review and I will make sure to add it to my library.

  2. Great word optimalist. I am definitely too much of a perfectionist – it takes up too much time and you get stressed when things aren’t perfect. I’m definitely going to try and be more of an optimalist in the future!

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