Note: Must Reads #1 was accidentally deleted through a Github pages mishap.
Welcome to my second installment of must reads. Today’s theme is perfectionism and its discontents.
- “The Problem with Being Perfect.” by Olga Khazan. Perfectionism can often seem like a good problem to have in the abstract, but it can be utterly destructive. I also think it has something to do with our turn toward excessive individualism. The article tantalizes us with just such a suggestion about the erosion of civic responsibility and a more communal orientation and then moves on to the personal costs of perfectionism:
In an opinion piece earlier this year, Curran and Hill argue that society has also become more dog-eat-dog. “Over the last 50 years, communal interest and civic responsibility have been progressively eroded,” they write, “replaced by a focus on self-interest and competition in a supposedly free and open marketplace.” We strive for perfection, it seems, because we feel we must in order to get ahead.
- “How Can You Uncover Your Best Self? Start by Judging Other People – Really.” I was intrigued by this technique for discovering what one truly desires. It’s not really about judging people in a sense of being mean. It’s more about paying attention to how you react to what other people do or say. Why do you react that way? What does it tell you about what motivates you? One example given is reacting to an interview with a wealthy celebrity by asking, “How can anyone be truly happy when they are chasing riches and fame?” That “judgy” comment might give you the insight that it’s not fame or wealth that motivates you (if that hadn’t already occurred to you).
- “It’s Okay to Be Good and Not Great.” Brad Stulberg argues that “not always trying so damn hard to be great isn’t just the path to being happier; it’s also the path to getting better”.