The Pursuit of Perfection

BBC has beaten me to the punch and ran this article,
Misery: the secret to happiness,
today about seeking perfection.

The key to a happy relationship could be accepting that some miserable times are unavoidable, experts say.

Therapists from California State University, Northridge
and Virginia Tech say accepting these problems is better than striving
for perfection.

I have been thinking about this topic for a while now and I wrote a half finished post during my flight back from Houston last month. So without further ado, here is my scattered thoughts on the topic:

Everywhere I look, people are obsessed with perfection and are spending extraordinary amount of time looking for it in their life. They look for the perfect boyfriend/girlfriend/partner/husband/wife, the perfect car, the perfect job, the perfect house, the perfect children, the perfect life in essence. But are their effort worth the trouble?

Deep down, most of us know that perfect is very hard if not impossible to obtain. Engineers knew for many years that one can spend 20% of the time getting 80% of what you want, and then spent the rest of the 80% of the time getting the remaining 20%. In some cases, such as the space shuttle or nuclear power station, those extra time are well spent. But for the other less critical area of our lives, do we or more importantly, should we expand those extra time in pursuit of the remaining 20% to get perfection? Shouldn’t we be contented with the 80% of what we already have and spend the other time on getting things in our life that may make a bigger difference?

Take relationship as an example. Many people out there spend a lot of their time and energy in search of their ‘perfect’ partner. Does such person exist? Sure. With over 300 millions people in the US alone, there bounds to be someone who will be a perfect match with someone else just by statistic alone. And we are not talking about just someone finding a person perfect for them. We are talking about two people to be ‘perfect’ for each other!

So how long would it take someone to find the perfect partner? I have no idea, but common sense would dictate that the time it takes to find a ‘suitable’ partner is far shorter than to finding a ‘perfect’ one. Would finding the perfect partner offsets the stress of the search? Keep in mind that most people would fail in their search and resign to settle for a 'lesser' partner.

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