Being Happy Without Being Perfect.

Being Happy Without Being Perfect.

I usually enjoy reading some weekly articles in the local dailies. My consistency with them can be associated with the love of reading engraved in me, but there is something else. The stories written therein are often out of real life experiences. In fact they are written by active health practitioners or retired ones as in the case of Dr. Dawood. Dr. Chris Hart is still a practicing psychologist and I Suppose Dr. Osur still practices gynecology.

I have realized over time how wrong it is when we strive for infallibility especially when some of those successful people we look up to have in one way or the other confessed to have made many mistakes than their successful triumphs in their lives.

Can we really be happy without being perfect at all? I can ascertain that yes we can. How then?

The first aspect of being happy without being perfect has to do with being contented. This means our happiness is tied to our satisfaction about a situation at a specific point in time as opposed to an expected future outcome. Contentment is actually defined as the neurophysiological experience of satisfaction and being at ease in one’s situation. It has to do with being at peace with our situations both psychologically and physically.

Whenever I read some of the stories in the dailies I tend to realize that perfectionism is deeply engraved in people’s minds. They don’t appreciate their own weaknesses or those of others. For most people, dissatisfaction has to begin in the mind before perception by sight can confirm their fears. I don’t know the possibility of human beings hypnotizing themselves before recuperating to the reality of this world that there is nothing like perfectionism. Flaws are everywhere and perhaps accepting this fact can be a good start.

Secondly, if we are to be happy with our shortcomings we have to learn to appreciate that we are running at our own paces in the school of life. I watched a certain program some days back for a short while about marriage conflicts and at the heart of it was social stratification. The comparison of people with their friends, as well as society at large. I wasn’t surprised that women have a lot of issues with this aspect. Yes men are affected too but women are a major victim here.

While reading a book Be Happy Without Being Perfect by Alice D. Domar and Alice Lesch Kelly, the authors hinted that the middle class in general suffer from this stratification mania a lot. The media comes into play by trying to advise us how happiness looks like and what a perfect us ought to be like. All of sudden we start some form of fanaticism towards happiness that is sought after. Of course we start comparing every hint of our decisions with a standard who are mostly celebrities. The whole scenario ends looking as though we are in an act of psychodrama in which the real us are suppressed and some form of higher order takes control.

In West Africa there is this dance style called a masquerade which involves wearing masks and dancing in a possessed manner. The participants at the time of dancing are never themselves. Our lives sometimes can be equated to the masquerade dance and once possessed in the race of being at bar with friends and neighbours we are never our real selves. The faster we get to appreciate the fact that we are all moving at our own paces the better.

For instance some of us will make money while young whereas some will make money at old age. Some of us will be leaders at young ages while others will be leaders at old ages. The case of Donald Trump verses Obama or Mwai Kibaki verses Uhuru Kenyatta comes to play here perfectly. The initial Apple partners were youths when they founded the company whereas KFC founder was a middle aged man at the inception of the company. I can go on and on and not finish. It is all about the fact that our happiness or success is never a measured factor against some standard reference.

Thirdly we can never do everything right. There must be some point where we fail. We could fail a little or even a lot. Actually I have been wondering why some people fear to begin in their quests. Perhaps people have fear of the unknown because we have been wired to believe that we are to succeed in all undertakings. It sounds quite amusing especially after most of us have gone to school and studied the law of probability. There is as good opportunity to succeed as is their fail. We can agree that obsession with perfectionism is a huge disaster than we view it.

But what is being perfect? It is a quality of being flawless, ideal and in a state of divine attribution of complete excellence. However, this should not be mistaken with OCD (Obsessive – Compulsive Disorder). In OCD, individuals get accustomed with persistent thoughts (obsessions) and use rituals (compulsions) to control the thoughts they produce. An example of the person with OCD is a case where you are obsessed with a neat handwriting and you take your time to ‘draw’ or ‘craft’ each letter until you get satisfied with the outcome.

It sounds more of a perception on what a proper outcome means to us that pushes us to try and achieve that that we perceive as satisfactory. This does not mean that the results are flawless though. So OCD is more less having an obsession with achieving a certain level of excellence according to our taste and need and doesn’t necessary mean being aptly perfect.

Hence we should understand that failure is part and parcel of the journey of life. We should never fear to try and fail. In the case of OCD, the guy trying to achieve his perceived neat handwriting erases as many times as he draws the letters. So failure to him is part of the process of achieving what to him looks neat. In this case it his own standard and he gets happy with it.

The problem with the rest of us, the cream, is that the standards are not ours rather those set by the second and third parties. Flawless standards set for us by others. We get so stressed with the how our neighbours or friends will talk of us once they see us. For the OCD individuals, it is them and them alone. It rarely matters what the rest of the people think of them. It is more of a disorder indeed but one I find interesting. The victims strive to attain ‘perfectionism’ which is never their objective in the first place.

So for us to be happy, we should accept that we have to live within the confines of our situations and be content with that. We also need to appreciate the fact that we can’t live like everybody else at one point in life. We have our unique journeys in this life and we better walk at our own paces. While walking, we need to accept the fact that we may fall but that doesn’t mean we don’t take the journey. After all we are walking at our own pace. When we fail, there are a million opportunities for us to rise. Perfectionism fears should never deter us.

As for Dr. Osur, those who come to the sexology clinic get things to turn around often as does to those who have had an opportunity in a hopeless situation to see Dr. Dawood. It is about accepting the circumstances we are in as well as  accept our abilities and live as per them.


Copyright @ 2018.

Geoffrey Ndege

Geoffrey Ndege

Geoffrey Ndege is the Editor and topical contributor for the Daily Focus. He writes in the areas of Science, Politics, Policy, Technology, Current Affairs, Opinion, Agriculture, Energy, Education, Entrepreneurship, Governance, International Emerging Issues, Society, and culture. For featuring, promotions or support write to us at
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