Perfect is the Enemy of the Good

“Le mieux est l’ennemi du bien.” ~ Voltaire

Recently, I read a blog post about how tea has pesticides and is dangerous and how this kind of tea bag is bad, but that one is worse, etc. Beyond the extraordinarily bad ‘research’; what I found interesting was the comments below the article.

The readers bemoaned the results and now didn’t know what to do. Drink tea or not; this tea, but not that one; organic tea – but it’s expensive… this article caused huge doubt, fear and unhappiness in the lives of the readers – over TEA.

What we are really looking at is perfection. In this case, it’s the most perfect, healthy tea out there.  I think that there are upsides and downsides to everything and that if we are looking for the optimal way to do it, or to eliminate all (toxins or whatever) we are going to be forever disappointed because it will never be good enough.

Sometimes, good enough is good enough.

It’s no different when we talk about pregnancy, childbirth or parenting. When we try to make it perfect or do it just right, we set ourselves up to be disappointed. We set the bar so high that we can never reach it. The act of trying to achieve takes precedent over the present moment. The goal, what we could be doing, becomes more important then what we are doing. We lose sight of the good and the joy of now.

 “Remember then that there is only one important time, and that time is now. The most important one is always the one you are with. And the most important thing to do is to do good for the one who is standing at your side. For these, my dear boy, are the answers to what is most important in this world. This is why we are here.”

The Three Questions (Based on a story by Leo Tolstoy) by Jon J. Muth

For, you see, perfection is the enemy of the good. When we seek the perfect pregnancy; the perfect childbirth; the perfect way to parent; we become blind to all the good in our lives. We then spend our time bemoaning how terrible things are, rather than being able to see what’s working for us.

For whatever reason, the idea of what we want becomes more important than what we currently have.

Stepping back to gain perspective on our lives may allow us to truly be present. In Buddhist philosophy there is a technique called “beginner’s mind”. This is when we enter a situation and we let go of what we think we know about it. We drop our preconceived ideas so we may be granted clear insight. We are able to see the situation from a new perspective, after having dropped our biases and our beliefs.

Babies and children all have “beginner’s mind”. The see situations in a new light and a perspective that is often enlightening to the adults around them. Babies and children don’t seek perfection (as a general rule). If it works, it’s good enough for them.

Maybe, if we apply “beginner’s mind” to our pregnancies, our births and our parenting we will be better contented with what is good enough, rather than feeling like we’ve failed for what is imperfect.

Take a breath and let it go, and have a cup of tea.


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