8.3 Editor's Pick
August 1, 2023

Why I Gave up Perfection for Happiness: a Guide to Mindful Living.

Let me start by saying I’m the last person you’d picture in a yoga pose or on a meditation cushion.

The mental image alone—legs pretzeled, eyes closed, a serene expression painted on my face—is about as far-fetched as me running a marathon.

Which, for the record, is also not happening.

I’ve always been more at home in the world of imperfections. The underdog, the procrastinator, the one who couldn’t tell a salad fork from a dessert fork if my life depended on it.

But I’ll let you in on a secret: this world is a lot less stressful than the alternative.

For years, I was that person who strived for perfection.

You know the type: pristine planner filled with color-coded tasks, 10 different self-improvement books on the nightstand (all half-read), an exercise routine more intense than training for the Olympics.

There was no room for mistakes. A misplaced comma could ruin my whole day.

Yeah, it was that bad.

Then, one day, amidst a meltdown over a disastrously baked batch of gluten-free muffins (which bore a disconcerting resemblance to Martian rock formations), I had an epiphany. I was sacrificing my happiness at the altar of perfection. Those muffins tasted like sandpaper, but did that make me a horrible person? Not exactly.

I realized I was conflating “being perfect” with “being worthy,” and let me tell you, they’re as different as Taylor Swift’s country and pop eras. A perfect exterior doesn’t equate to a fulfilled interior, my friends. My worth wasn’t tied to my ability to bake the perfect muffin, nor was my success measured by my superhuman ability to color-code a planner.

So, I decided to give it all up. Not in a dramatic, throw-all-my-possessions-and-move-to-a-nunnery kind of way, but in a slow, thoughtful journey toward accepting, even celebrating, my imperfect self.

I started by adding a touch of mindfulness to my life, which, if you imagine me sitting cross-legged and chanting “Om,” you’re partly right. Though more often than not, my mindfulness looked like acknowledging when things went haywire and letting myself laugh about it. I stopped and smelled the roses, even if some of them had a few sharp thorns.

Meditation was next. It’s less like achieving instant Zen and more like wrangling a bunch of rowdy toddlers. My thoughts bounced around, and trying to rein them in was a comedy show in itself. I would sit down to meditate and think about everything from whether I’d turned off the stove to the unexpected plot twist in my favorite show. But eventually, it started getting easier. I began to understand that it was not about silencing my mind but about becoming friends with it.

And the most beautiful thing happened. As I embraced my flaws and found joy in the messiness of life, I became happier. I traded my planner for an impromptu picnic, swapped self-help books for novels, and replaced the Olympic-worthy workouts with leisurely bike rides to happy hour.

In the pursuit of perfection, I’d been missing out on the beautiful, flawed, messy glory of being human. I was too busy trying to fix myself to realize that I wasn’t broken.

So here’s my advice to you: forget perfection. Embrace the chaos, the wrong turns, the burnt muffins. It’s in these imperfect moments that we truly live. It’s okay not to have all your ducks in a row—honestly, have you ever tried to line up ducks? It’s a nightmare.

It turns out, the beauty of life is in its perfect imperfection.

And trust me, it’s a lot funnier too.


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