There’s plenty in society, culture, politics, education and life in general that’s not perfect. I don’t believe that it’s ever been perfect. I highly doubt that it ever will be perfect in the future.
Furthermore, my views of what constitutes perfection could be quite different from yours. So even if something did manage to meet my standard of perfection, it may fall far short from your point of view. And then there are all of those other people in the country or even around the globe; each one with their own opinions on how things ought to be.
Granted, there are plenty of opportunities for improvement. You can probably think of a few people whose behaviour you’d like to see improved. I’m well aware that even my own behaviour could stand some improvement.
We could respond to the reality of all of this imperfection with anger, despair, or pessimism. Plenty of people do respond in those ways. They spend their time bemoaning what they see: resenting the present, fearing the future. At some point, a person who maintains that outlook may come to realize that they are leading a pretty miserable, unsatisfying life.
If you find yourself trapped in an unhappy, pessimistic mindset and you would like to change it, here’s a question you might consider.
Are you comparing the imperfect situation to a standard that exists? Or are you comparing it to some imaginary standard that is perfect, but that doesn’t exist anywhere in reality?
For example, the workplace is one place where imperfections abound. Perhaps you don’t make the money you believe you deserve. Maybe you need to work more hours than you want, or fewer hours than you want, or different hours than you want. Or perhaps your workplace is full of people—and they all have problems of some sort. There are lots of opportunities to find imperfections if you are looking for them.
Now, consider this possibility. Is there, do you believe, a workplace that would meet your standard for perfection? In other words, are you comparing your less-than-perfect workplace with other workplaces? Or with that perfectly idyllic workplace that exists only in your mind?
Another place where one can occasionally find imperfections is in close relationships. Perhaps your spouse is less attentive than you would like. Your ideal (imaginary) spouse always picks up after themselves, asks about our day, and provides constant encouragement and support. In comparison to that ideal standard, your actual spouse may be somewhat lacking.
Imperfection exists. However, we are not forced to choose to be miserable because of it.
An interesting question is, “How much control over my own life and outlook do I want to give up to things that are wrong (in my view)?”
When faced with less-than-ideal situations, we can choose to be upset about them or choose not to be upset. Choosing not be upset doesn’t necessarily mean that we don’t care about the situation. It just means, literally, that we are choosing not to be upset about it.
If you’re having some difficulty with imagining just how you might choose calm rather than choosing upset, try this perspective. In some contexts, it’s the imperfections that add beauty and interest. A perfectly pruned, symmetrical tree is not as interesting or beautiful as a naturally formed asymmetrical one.
The imperfections that you see in your partner, for example, may also be the characteristics that contribute to the joy and interest in your relationship.
Perfection is hard to come by. Misery, though, seems to be easy to find.
When we make a conscious choice to take control of our outlook, we also make a choice about where we want to devote our precious life energy. Is that worth the effort? What do you think?
Welcome to Reality Check:
articles and observations inspired by the work of Dr. William Glasser
- Choosing Behaviour
- Choosing Perspective
- Control and Choice
- Develop Understanding
- Doing, Thinking, Feeling, Physiology
- How it is sometimes
- Love & Belonging
- Perception & Reality
- Personal Freedom