Gretchen Rubin

Tip: Don’t let the PERFECT be the enemy of the GOOD.

Every Wednesday is Tip Day.
This Wednesday: Tip for not letting the PERFECT be the enemy of the GOOD.

Voltaire is the great thinker responsible for the observation, “Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good.”

I’ve found this precept to be extremely useful with my happiness project. Instead of pushing myself to an impossible “perfect,” and therefore getting nowhere, I accept “good.”

This sounds sensible enough, you’re thinking, but how does it actually work in real life? Here are some examples:

-- I floss sometimes. Not every day. Sometimes.

-- I don’t push myself in exercise. I have friends who, I suspect, secretly scoff at my mild work-out routines. But because they never exercise except to push themselves to the max, they never go, and I’ve been exercising consistently since high school.

-- I don’t call, I email. When I told someone about my April resolution to send my friends birthday emails, he said, “But you should call! A call is much better.” True, I admit. But I hate the phone, and I won’t call. But I will send an email.

-- I send out Valentine’s cards with the girls’ photo, instead of trying to mail cards in December. People seem to like getting a card for Valentine’s Day, and it’s so much easier to deal with the task once Christmas is over.

-- For everyday, at my dermatologist’s recommendation, I wear a sunscreen of SPF 15 or 30 on my face and neck. It’s light enough to put on easily, while creams with a higher SPF are so goopy that it’s tempting to skip putting them on. Better SPF 15 (which is 88% effective) than no SPF at all.

-- When I read magazines, I skim and skip. Otherwise old issues pile up everywhere and make me feel guilty and overwhelmed.

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