The Obsession for a Perfect Life
Life seldom gifts us with a feeling of complete satisfaction. Or at least not based on our understanding of the word “complete”. We live in a very artificial world, plagued with false needs. This can make us feel like we’re missing a piece or two or more in our lives, and this in turn can blind us to the wonderful “pieces” we already have. It’s all to do with our obsession for a perfect life. It is as if that little piece, that we think we need to fill the empty void that we are feeling, was the final key to our happiness. “If only I worked in what I liked, I would be happier. If only I had a steady partner and could start a family with her, I would surely at last be happy”
These thoughts, which we have all had, are a persistent obstacle along the path of our well-being. Most of them are the product of our culture and our education: we have been taught that the more we possess, the happier we will be.
We live under pressure to fill the whole Trivial Pursuit “cheese” , and this way of looking at life will always fill us with anxieties, frustrations and sadness.
When we achieve one of our goals (especially if it something material), we will immediately set a new goal to reach, and then another and another… until we are completely burnt out.
Having desires and goals is legitimate and healthy. What meaning would life have if we had no goals or dreams? But this is not the same as thinking that everything we want we actually need. Being able to distinguish between what we want and what we actually need will mean that we aren’t upset by an apparent defeat when we don’t get what we hoped for.
The obsession for a perfect life, but where is the happiness?
You only have to tell this to all those people who have been able to fulfill all their dreams and, even then, they have not felt complete. Millions of people in the world, if we look from the outside, seem to have an enviable life. We look at their lives and we may even feel jealous and think that they have found the perfect way to be happy and at peace, but it is all just a facade.
If these people really are happy then it is not due to what they possess, but rather that they know how to look at life in a special way.
As human beings, we have a hard time being at peace with what we already have. We always have the feeling that we can do something more, that we can do things better or that we can get more of whatever it is that we want. We feel empty, incomplete, imperfect…
Through all our enormous efforts, we end up achieving our goals, the possessions we always wanted, and everything that was supposed to make our life happy… and we simply end up exhausted and our bodies aching. Once we have finally acquired everything we wanted to, we find that we still aren’t happy, and that we need to take yet more steps to try and achieve that happiness.
If I’ve been able to get a degree, now I must have a doctorate and then I must have a stable partner, then I will try to speak languages, travel, have children … And worst of all, if for whatever reason I don’t achieve one or more of these, then I will be a failure.
Thinking like this is to plant the seed that sows misfortune in our life. Since we are trying to achieve an impossible unreal concept – perfection- we will always have the feeling that we are failures.
Where is the key then?
The first thing we have to learn is that no external influence has sufficient power to change our emotional state. No one is happier than before because of their possessions, and even if there is some short term effect, in the long run it doesn’t work like that.
When children discover the toys that Father Christmas has brought them then they seem happier, but this happiness only lasts a few days. After this passing pleasure, the children will want to change toys again, and the ones they have just received will be left to one side.
The same thing happens to adults. Things end up losing their value over time and whatever we get in the future will also lose its value. Human beings adapt and over time any type of living becomes normal.
Why was Michael Jackson, with a mansion that was also a theme park, unhappier than the majority of those who live in poverty?
The second thing we have to keep in mind is that happiness, joy, well-being, or whatever we want to call it, is inside us and emanates from a way of approaching life that appreciates and loves what it has right now without yearning for anything else. We need that special ability to realize that what we have is enough and that we really do not need anything else to feel comfortable.
Finally, a healthy practice to acquire is to consciously renounce almost everything and be willing to live without it. I can try to fulfill my dreams, but at the same time accept that maybe I never achieve them and know that that doesn’t need to affect my personal well-being.
Acceptance of life as it happens is one of the most important keys to feeling free.
You may think it’s conformism, but it’s not. We encourage you to have desires, motivations and goals. We also encourage you to try and reach them, but always with the overriding knowledge that none of that will make you truly happier, and that if for any reason you fail to fulfil any of those dreams, it means that you didn’t need them either.