Do you wrestle with maintaining happiness in your daily life? Does the success rat race keep you stressed? Or maybe you just think that perfectionism is attainable when you work at the right things hard enough for long enough. If this touches a chord for you and you are ready to consider the possibility of adopting a new way of thinking about your life, read The Pursuit of Perfect by Tal Ben-Shahar, Ph.D.
Covering topics like failure, success, reality, love, and work, the author makes a compelling case for seeking to become a recovered perfectionist — as he has. Through a combination of personal anecdotes, extensive research, and numerous soul-searching exercises, Ben-Shahar leads readers to their own personal discovery of subtle perfectionist traits or to tackle the stronghold of the perfectionism trap. While one or two chapters stretched my patience for academic style writing, for the most part, this book takes on an easy read tone.
The Pursuit of Perfect was originally written as a workbook. With frequent "TIME-IN" sections, readers are invited to engage in specific self reflections. For the more "homework" oriented person, each chapter has a set of easy to do exercises compelling readers to be proactive toward change. As a guide to discovering one's individual thinking about perfectionism, I began to wonder, "Is there a little bit of perfectionism in all of us?"
I confronted my brand of perfectionism in my 20s and 30s during 13 years of government service as a probation and parole officer. You see, the "bad guys" were not really all that bad; while many of the "good guys" (coworkers and management) needed lots of work on themselves. My incredible experience in this role forced me out of my typical judgmental and perfectionist thinking. I can totally relate to the trap of perfectionism.
Ben-Shahar makes a clever case about the paradox of perfectionism, the fear of failure, and the achievement of success. In a backwards way, we cannot truly feel or know success if we embrace perfectionism because we are always looking for the next goal to conquer while avoiding choices that may produce failure, which could eventually lead to significant success. I have always made it a habit to return to rest on my past laurels to gain perspective on any current failure I was experiencing. I agree that without failure there can be no true or continued success.