Is the Perfect the Enemy of the Good?

Voltaire once said, “perfect is the enemy of the good.” And as a perfectionist in recovery, I can say without hesitation, the boy was he right!

Having high standards motivates us to work hard and to excel in life.

However, the desire to be perfect only handicaps us. It stops us from doing what we’d really like to do. And if it doesn’t, it deprives us of the pleasure of enjoying what we pursue.

Here’s what happens when we reach for perfection:

We become Haunted by Failure

Under the false illusion that our path in life should be a straight line, we become terrified of curves and detours. Nothing sounds more catastrophic than the idea of making a mistake. So we become scared to death of taking risks. Of going beyond the unknown to try something new.

We don’t see failure as an opportunity to learn and to grow. But only as the most intimidating threat to be feared. So we do everything in our power to avoid it at all costs. Even if it means we stop living.

We Fail to Enjoy Success

If we see failure as our enemy then success would be our foremost ally, right? Well no. Even if we succeed, our expectations are such that any success is perceived as trivial. When we accomplish a goal we underestimate it. And fail to savor it.

There’s always something that could have been done better. A mistake that could have been avoided. A detail that shouldn’t have been missed. In the end, there’s always something that we failed to do, even if we succeeded. Because we failed to be perfect.

We Become Color Blind

Through our perfectionist glasses we only perceive two colors on the paint palette: black or white. We fail or we succeed. We lose or we win. We are right or we are wrong. We are happy or we are miserable. We go through life swinging from one extreme to the other.

We don’t feel comfortable in the gray. So we’re uncomfortable all the time. We desire to be perfect so badly that we don’t realize the greatness of a beautiful yet imperfect life. And because we don’t, we miss out on all the wonderful colors of the rainbow.

We Think We’re Superman

We start to believe that we can achieve the impossible. The humanly impossible. We set the bar unattainably and unrealistically high. So high indeed that we can’t even see where it is. Yet we keep trying to reach for that perfect plateau. Because we’re convinced it exists. Not realizing we’re only setting ourselves up for failure and disappointment.

We think, ‘if it isn’t perfect, it isn’t worth it”. And because nothing is, we just stop trying. We start to believe whatever we do, we’ll fail anyway. So we give up. Because trying to achieve the unachievable becomes too heavy a burden to bear.

We Let our Imperfection Define Us

We start to base our self-worth on how perfect we are. And when we realize we’re not even close to being perfect, nor will we ever be, we’re fooled by the idea that we aren’t really worth anything.

So we do everything we can to look perfect. To act perfect. To be perfect. No wonder perfectionism leads to psychological disorders like anorexia, depression, and anxiety! Because we start to think that only by being perfect we’ll be valuable. And only then will we deserve the love and acceptance we need to be happy.

The desire to excel pushes us to aim high. To reach for the moon, knowing that even if we miss, we’ll land among the stars. But the desire to be perfect is nothing but a free ticket for a ride straight down to hell. One that only leads to misery and despair.

The perfect can only be found in the imperfect. It is by making mistakes that we grow. By failing that we succeed. By knowing the ugly that we value the beautiful.

I used to think that striving for perfection took strength and self-discipline. Now I realize it is the other way around. The real challenge lies in accepting our imperfections. Working through them. And thriving as a result of them. It’s about learning to be perfectly imperfect!

So next time you feel like a failure because you didn’t achieve the level of perfection you were looking for, make sure you remember this: Good is good enough. Excellent is even better. But perfect is nothing but a fantasy. Something that only exists in your imagination. But that if pursued can become your worst enemy.

The perfect can be the enemy of all that’s good. So don’t let it!


完美是优秀的敌人?

Is the Perfect the Enemy of the Good?

伏尔泰曾经说过:“完美是优秀的敌人。”作为一个正在恢复的完美主义者,我可以毫不迟疑地说,他是对的。

Voltaire once said “perfect is the enemy of the good.” And as a perfectionist in recovery I can say without hesitation, boy was he right!

拥有高标准激励我们努力工作,在生活中鹤立鸡群。

Having high standards motivates us to work hard and to excel in life.

然而,对完美的渴望只会使我们变得残缺。追求完美阻止我们去做我们真正想做的事。即使不是这样,它也会剥夺了我们享受我们所追求的事物的乐趣。

However, the desire to be perfect, only handicaps us. It stops us from doing what we’d really like to do. And if it doesn’t, it deprives us of the pleasure of enjoying what we pursue.

以下就是当我们达到“完美”时所发生的事:

Here’s what happens when we reach for perfection:

我们被失败捕获了

We become Haunted by Failure

在我们的人生之路应该是一条直线的假象之下,我们变得对曲线和弯路战战兢兢。没什么听起来比犯错误更可怕的了。所以我们对冒险害怕得要死,对走向未知尝试新事物怕得要死。

Under the false illusion that our path in life should be a straight line, we become terrified of curves and detours. Nothing sounds more catastrophic than the idea of making a mistake. So we become scared to death of taking risks. Of going beyond the unknown to try something new.

我们没有看到,失败是一个学习和成长的机会。我们只看到它是一个会令人恐惧的最吓人的凶兆。所以我们不惜一切代价尽我们所能去避免失败。

We don’t see failure as an opportunity to learn and to grow. But only as the most intimidating threat to be feared. So we do everything in our power to avoid it at all costs. Even if it means we stop living.

我们不能享受成功

We Fail to Enjoy Success

如果我们把失败看作敌人,那么成功会成为我们最重要的盟友,是这样吗?嗯,其实不是。即使我们成功了,我们的期望太高了任何成功都觉得微不足道。当我们完成一个目标时,我们低估它。然后体会不到它的风味。

If we see failure as our enemy then success would be our foremost ally, right? Well no. Even if we succeed, our expectations are such that any success is perceived as trivial. When we accomplish a goal we underestimate it. And fail to savor it.

总有些什么本可以做得更好。一个本可以避免的错误,一个本不应该遗漏的细节。最后,总有些事我们没有做到,即使我们成功了。因为我们没能做到完美。

There’s always something that could have been done better. A mistake that could have been avoided. A detail that shouldn’t have been missed. In the end, there’s always something that we failed to do, even if we succeeded. Because we failed to be perfect.

我们变得看不见彩色

We Become Color Blind

透过完美主义者的眼镜,在调色盘上我们只能看到两种颜色:白色或者黑色。我们要么失败要么成功。要么输要么赢。要么对要么错。要么开心幸福要么悲惨可怜。我们过着在两个极端中摇摆的生活。

Through our perfectionist glasses we only perceive two colors on the paint palette: black or white. We fail or we succeed. We lose or we win. We are right or we are wrong. We are happy or we are miserable. We go through life swinging from one extreme to the other.

在灰色之中我们感到不舒坦。所以我们总是不舒坦。我们太渴望变得完美了,以至于我们没有意识到一个美好但是不完美人生的伟大。因为我们没有意识到不完美的美好,所以我们遗漏了彩虹所有的令人惊叹的色彩。

We don’t feel comfortable in the gray. So we’re uncomfortable all the time. We desire to be perfect so badly that we don’t realize the greatness of a beautiful yet imperfect life. And because we don’t, we miss out on all the wonderful colors of the rainbow.

我们认为我们是超人

We Think We’re Superman

我们一开始相信我们能够做到不可能的事。人力做不到的事。我们把杆放得太高,高得难以达到和不现实。实在是太高了,我们甚至看不到它在哪里。但是我们还不断地试着去达到那个完美高地。因为我们确信它是存在的。没有意识到我们只给自己设置了失败和失望。

We start to believe that we can achieve the impossible. The humanly impossible. We set the bar unattainably and unrealistically high. So high indeed that we can’t even see where it is. Yet we keep trying to reach for that perfect plateau. Because we’re convinced it exists. Not realizing we’re only setting ourselves up for failure and disappointment.

我们想,“如果它不是完美的,它便不值得去追求”。因为没有事物是完美的,我们就停止了尝试。我们开始相信无论我们做什么,我们都会失败。所以我们放弃了。因为努力达到难以达成的变得不堪重负。

We think, ‘if it isn’t perfect, it isn’t worth it”. And because nothing is, we just stop trying. We start to believe whatever we do, we’ll fail anyway. So we give up. Because trying to achieve the unachievable becomes too heavy a burden to bear.

我们用不完美来定义自己

We Let our Imperfection Define Us

当我们认识到我们并不曾靠近过完美,或是不曾完美过,我们就被“我们一文不值”这个念头愚弄了。

We start to base our self-worth on how perfect we are. And when we realize we’re not even close to being perfect, nor will we ever be, we’re fooled by the idea that we aren’t really worth anything.

能做的来使我们看起来完美,这就不奇怪完美主义者往往会患厌食症、抑郁症还有焦虑症。因为我们一开始就认为只有做到完美我们才会有价值。只有那时我们才会配得上我们需要的爱和接受,才会感到开心。

So we do everything we can to look perfect. To act perfect. To be perfect. No wonder perfectionism leads to psychological disorders like anorexia, depression, and anxiety! Because we start to think that only by being perfect we’ll be valuable. And only then will we deserve the love and acceptance we need to be happy.

想要变得优秀的渴望推搡着我们定下高目标。为了触到月亮,知道我们是否错失了什么,我们会踏上群星中的月亮。但是想要变得完美的念头不过是一张直堕地狱的免费车票。一张只会通向不幸和绝望的车票。

The desire to excel pushes us to aim high. To reach for the moon, knowing that even if we miss, we’ll land among the stars. But the desire to be perfect is nothing but a free ticket for a ride straight down to hell. One that only leads to misery and despair.

完美只存在于不完美中。不犯错,不成长。没有失败便没有成功。没见过丑便不知美。

The perfect can only be found in the imperfect. It is by making mistakes that we grow. By failing that we succeed. By knowing the ugly that we value the beautiful.

我曾经认为做到完美需要力量和自律,现在我意识到它们是通向旁边的目的地的。真正的挑战在于接受我们的不完美。接受不完美,并因此茁壮成长。我们要学着在不完美中做到完美。

I used to think that striving for perfection took strength and self-discipline. Now I realize it is the other way around. The real challenge lies in accepting our imperfections. Working through them. And thriving as a result of them. It’s about learning to be perfectly imperfect!

因此下一次你应没有达到追寻着的完美而感到挫败的时候,记得这句话:优秀就足够了,出色当然更好,但完美只是幻想,某种只存在于你的想象,并且会成为你的敌人的东西。

So next time you feel like a failure because you didn’t achieve the level of perfection you were looking for, make sure you remember this: Good is good enough. Excellent is even better. But perfect is nothing but a fantasy. Something that only exists in your imagination. But that if pursued can become your worst enemy.

完美可以成为所有优秀者的敌人。所以别让完美四处乱跑!

The perfect can be the enemy of all that’s good. So don’t let it!

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