Monday, March 10, 2014

Danger of Perfectionism

There is a common saying that nobody is perfect, yet that does not keep some of us from trying.  In general, there is nothing wrong with doing our best and excelling, even competing with others for the first spot. 

Many Christians try to follow Jesus and his words from the “Sermon on the Mount:” 
“Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”
~ Matthew 5:48

What is the meaning of this perfection which Jesus suggested?

·       According to the dictionary, perfection means: the condition, state, or quality of being free or as free as possible from all flaws or defects.

·       The word "perfection" derives from the Latin "perfectio", and "perfect" — from "perfectus." These expressions in turn come from "perficio" — "to finish", "to bring to an end."

·       The philosopher Aristotle defines perfection as:

1. which is complete — which contains all the requisite parts;
2. which is so good that nothing of the kind could be better;
3. which has attained its purpose.

Once we understand what our human purpose (human beings are created to be the center of harmony of the whole cosmos) is, I don’t see it as an impossibility of reaching that perfect state.

“Ring the bells that still can ring
 Forget your perfect offering.
 There is a crack in everything,
 That's how the light gets in.”
 ~Leonard Cohen, Canadian musician, poet and novelist

Today, more than ever before, we have learned about spiritual principles like The Law of Attraction.  We understand that it has the same or even greater consequences than physical laws such as the Law of Gravity.

God gave us spiritual laws to direct us on our journey here on earth so that we have some guidelines for our lives.  Traditionally, religions were the source of these principles, since they dealt with spiritual matters.  Unfortunately, there are so many religions and so many different ways to present these principles that people often get confused, and in the worst way, throw out all of these instructions.

“Many people think of perfectionism as striving to be your best, but it is not about self-improvement; it's about earning approval and acceptance.”
~ Brene Brown, American scholar, author, public speaker on vulnerability.

There is a trend toward perfectionism though which is downright unhealthy and causes mental illness.

Extreme perfectionism:

·       Causes anxiety

·       Causes worry
      ·       Causes arrogance

·       Shuts out emotions

·       Creates unrealistic expectations

·       Creates paralysis by analysis

·       Avoids suffering

·       Tries to keep control

·       Tries to do everything by oneself without help from others
I am sure we could add many more symptoms of extreme perfectionism which can be dangerous for lives. 

"Perfection is achieved, not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.” 
~ Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, 1900-1944  French writer and aviator
I was reading a book In Pursuit of Perfect by Tal Ben-Shahar who uses his observations to shed more light on reaching happiness instead of perfection.  Tal is an optimistic force in bringing positive psychology to the general public.  Positive psychology focuses on happiness, self-esteem, optimism, and joy.  Among Mr. Ben-Shahar’s attention I like the one on being grateful the most.  Gratitude creates a base for happiness and opens a passage to communicate with the Divine, our Heavenly Parents.

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