A Little Happier: Don’t Let the Perfect Be the Enemy of the Good.

It’s a Secret of Adulthood — admittedly, cribbed from Voltaire: Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good.

Be Gretchen! Just in time, I remembered not to let the perfect, fantasy Gretchen crowd out the actual, real Gretchen (who really dislikes making those kinds of plans).

Along the same lines, I remind myself that the 20-minute walk I take is better than the 3-mile run I never start; having people over for take-out is better than never having people to an elegant dinner party.

Have you faced this, in your own experience — where the perfect can interfere with the good?


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GretchenReadingAudiobookHere’s a photo of me recording Better Than Before. That pillow? It’s to muffle “stomach noises.” Sheesh!

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Happier listening!

  • kylidica

    Hi Gretchen,

    This episode of “A Little Happier” could not have come at a more perfect time. My friend is visiting me from Germany starting tomorrow, and I was doing the exact same thing: stressing out about how to make her visit perfect when we really just want to spend time together. Now, I’m going to stop making endless to-do lists and just think of the fun we will have. Thank you! Love your show! Love your books!

    • gretchenrubin


  • Mimi Gregor

    I’m more at the receiving end in the scenario you mentioned. Our 30th anniversary is coming up, and my husband has been listening to acquaintances who keep telling him “oh, you need to do something REALLY special”, and give all sorts of suggestions. I have trouble making him believe that their suggestions just seem stressful and tiring to me. I’d be happy with dinner out at a nicer than usual restaurant, or maybe going to a play. I know that sounds boring to some, but I’m not the partier that I used to be. I have to “be Mimi”… and Mimi is basically a homebody.

    • gretchenrubin

      Excellent observation about this point.

  • Anita

    I can relate to this, I set high expectations of myself and want everything to be perfect. The pressure I put myself under can stop me enjoying something enjoyable, like having friends round for dinner, and I will avoid it, opting to go out for a meal instead, so I don’t have to tidy the house & prepare a meal! Even though I know my friends don’t care if I’ve dusted or if we get a take away.

  • Coco

    ” the 20-minute walk I take is better than the 3-mile run I never start” – Gold right there, so true