Perfection doesn’t equal happiness


Getty Images

Girl drawing smiley face on to a wall

“You have to be perfect to be successful.”

Whether this comes from our professors, our parents or even ourselves, the idea of perfection is deeply engraved into the minds of college students today.
From an early age, we are taught that in order to be happy, one must succeed. And in order to succeed, achieve our most ambitious goals, every aspect of our lives must be planned and meet a certain criterion.

Such rigorous standards have caused our generation to become deeply unsatisfied with our measly achievements, associating happiness with the unobtainable quality of perfection.
Though it may be cliché and a bit overstated, the phrase, “You won’t always get your way,” applies to all of us. Many aspects of our lives are simply out of our control, and things will not always go as planned.

However, this does not have to affect our definition of success and contentment.
Last Friday night, my friends and I went on a late-night walk around campus. Soon enough, we became tired, so we stopped and sat by the fountain, talking for hours, covering endless topics and just getting to know each other better.

I sighed and laid back on the concrete, allowing my mind to wander. I could see a few bright lights in the sky. Though I knew they were giant balls of gas floating in the universe far away from me, I couldn’t help but think of how small they looked when surrounded by the empty blackness that seemed to envelop their light.

However, after a few minutes, my eyes began to adjust, and I could see more specks of light flickering through the darkness.
The black sky was no longer empty, but filled with stars whose light reached me, even from so far away.

All of this is to say that happiness and contentment is not based on perfection or success, but it is, instead, an outlook you must acquire.
Your overall mood depends on your approach to life. Dr. Robert Merton, an American sociologist, founded the theory of the self-fulfilling prophecy, which essentially states that what one expects of themselves will become true.

When I first laid back the other night, I only saw the stars I expected to see until I allowed my vision to expand.

Likewise, you can only be what you expect yourself to be, and only feel what you allow yourself to feel, so allow yourself to feel confident. Allow yourself to be happy.
Of course, this is much easier said than done. However, nothing remarkable was ever done overnight. Lao Tzu, an ancient Chinese philosopher, once said, “the journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.”

Dissatisfaction is a barrier that must be broken down one small brick at a time.
In order to spark change, you must open yourself to the idea of contentment.
In today’s society, with negativity dominating almost every aspect of our lives, we could certainly use a positive outlook.