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Perfect is the Enemy of Good

Have you ever decided to make a change in your life like "I'm going to start exercising," or "I'm going to be a better parent," or "I'm going to train to be a lion tamer!" and you find yourself trying to do everything perfectly? For many of us, when we try to make a change in our lives, we go full throttle: "I'm going to go running 4 days a week, do yoga 2 days a week, and hiking 1 day a week. I'm going to do it at 3:00am and if I miss a day, that obviously means I'm a complete failure and I should never try to do anything good for myself ever again."

I have a confession to make: I don't floss every day. Drinking the minimum suggested amount of water a day is very difficult for me. I also don't always stretch after I exercise. I only remember two out of four nights of the week to make my 2nd grader do her homework. I'll see a piece of scrap paper on my living room floor, and I'll walk by it... for two days. I don't wash my windows. When I paint a wall, I don't always put plastic down everywhere. I grind my teeth, and I don't wear a mouth guard at night. Sometimes I throw paper and plastic in the garbage can because I just can't deal. When we've moved to a new house, I didn't wipe down my things before I put them in boxes (much to my husband's dismay.) I pick my cuticles. I unintentionally let vegetables go bad in the fridge. I flip people off in traffic while using naughty expletives. And I don't water the plants. Okay, so that's a lot of confessions.

So I'm not perfect. But I am good.

If I go more than 5-10 miles over the speed limit, it's by accident. I come to a complete stop at all stop signs. The clothes I wear are always clean, and I shower every day. We have a sit-down (at the table) breakfast and dinner with the kids on all school days. I exercise 6 days a week. I change out my toothbrush whenever it starts to get raggedy, and make sure my kids always have fresh toothbrushes. I hold the door for strangers. I rinse off before getting in the swimming pool. I wash and fold cloth napkins for us to use at every meal. I try to "shop local" whenever I can. I walk instead of drive whenever I can. My office is well organized. I almost always stretch before I exercise. I'm pretty thrifty with our finances, and I keep a close eye on our budget. I use as little sugar in my tea and coffee as I can stand. And I cough into my arm.

Yes, you should exercise. Yes, you should recycle. You should tidy your house, remember to tell your kids to do their homework, floss every day, and drink enough water. But you're not going to do all of them all of the time.

Try. Do what you can. Don't strive for perfection. And as E.T. says, "Be good."

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23 nov 2022

Some people are perfectionists going great lengths and through punishing routines to achieve the perfect figure, the perfect score, the inimitable performance. But there are cultures around the world that have learned to abandon this rigid and obsessive behavior, and embrace the concept of imperfection. Artists and craftsman of such cultures would deliberately introduce flaws into their works to remind themselves that flaws are an integral part of being human. In Navajo culture, rug weavers would leave little imperfections along the borders in the shape of a line called chikoniti, which is translated into English as "spirit line" or " spirit pathway." The Navajos believe that when weaving a rug, the weaver entwines part of her being into the cloth.…

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