It’s Not About Perfection, Simply Happiness

Last week I asked a friend of mine who is living abroad in Germany if she thought she was where she was supposed to be, and she answered that was sure 95% of the time. I started wondering about that 5% and what it was that made her unsure, but stopped myself. I instead switched my question and asked her if she was happy. She told me that the days had their tough times, but at the end of the day she was happy. I think that was the better question.

My last year at Harvard, I felt as though I constantly saw people thinking hard about their future with a face that seemed to say: But what if I make the wrong decision and I fail? Harvard is a place that breeds a culture of always having to know what you will be doing to the next millionth step in front of you. It is a culture that does not teach its students very well that sometimes they are not going to have the perfect answers and they are going to fail. But just as my friend answered that she was 95% sure she was meant to be in Germany right now, I have learned that it is less a question of dwelling on that last 5%, but more a question of figuring out what makes me happy. And failure—well sometimes that comes with the territory of going after what I want because happiness is not always a straight and narrow path with obvious answers.

Happiness has been the hot topic between my friend Melissa and myself this year, and I am sure to return to the topic many times. I have decided that even if it doesn’t always make sense to others or is the apparent answer, as long as I am not intentionally hurting anyone in my quest, I must always move toward happiness. What makes me happy also makes me rise in the morning with a smile on my face and sigh with contentment at the close of the day. And when I can’t have everything around me at once that make me happy, I wish and work for the days in which I can have those people and those things around me again. I move towards them.

I realize that I’m not always going to have the right answers, nor am I always going to do what might be best to do, no matter how hard I try. But I do know the one thing I can do for myself is to seek the beauty that comes with feeling joy and happiness. Because 95% IS perfection, as long as there is happiness within it.

3 thoughts on “It’s Not About Perfection, Simply Happiness”

  1. Interesting post. I think the problem I see with this approach is that we are always chasing happiness – it’s an external thing. We say, if I accomplish X I will be happy, if I do Y I will be happy, if I get Z I will be happy. But are we ever truly happy? For me, the answer is no. Whenever I get something, I move on to the next wish or goal in life. It never ends.

    So to me i feel like we have to learn to develop an inner sense of peace and happiness and contentment, that is not dependent on extrinsic factors.

    1. I definitely agree with your sentiment about inner peace and contentment. But I do think there are things in our lives that help swell that inner peace and contentment and give us those feelings of happiness, such as family, a significant other, etc. But the key I think is to first be happy with yourself, so that if those things are not around you are not depressed, but that you can find some beauty still around you. That’s why I mentioned the idea of not knowing for sure about what you are presently doing, but still being perfectly content to do it. But seeking ways in which we can seek the life for ourselves that we want. I think living your life the way you want to is a large form of happiness for many people, and this post was in part about not being afraid to go after that life, filled with things and people you love. Because seeking perfection–those external factors–will lead to a circle of never ending wish-fulfillment.

  2. I think there is an element of mindful presence to this too: AK is right, in that we are often tempted to be chasing the Next Big Thing, the next thing whose promise will make us happy. So, why wait? As you put it, it is indeed about happiness… as long as we have the mindfulness to appreciate the joy of Right Here, Right Now, as well as the joy that is lingering from the past or the one that is right around the corner in our future.

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