The Pursuit of Perfect

How to Stop Chasing Perfection and Start Living a Richer, Happier Life
by Tal Ben-Shahar | McGraw-Hill © 2009 · 272 pages

It's time to quit being a perfectionist and start being an optimalist. And Tal Ben-Shahar, the former Harvard (Positive Psych) Professor shares why we should care, and how we can look to our ideals as guiding stars rather than distant shores. If you, like me, have perfectionist tendencies, you'll love the book and you'll love the Note as we explore some Big Ideas on how to embrace the constraints of life as we get our inner-optimalist on!

If the only dream we have is of a perfect life, we are doomed to disappointment since such dreams simply cannot come true in the real world.
Tal Ben-Shahar

“Perfectionism and optimalism are not distinct ways of being, an either-or choice, but rather they coexist in each person. And while we can move from perfectionism toward optimalism, we never fully leave perfectionism behind and never fully reach optimalism ahead. The optimalism ideal is not a distant shore to be reached but a distant star that guides us and can never be reached. As Carl Rogers pointed out, ‘The good life is a process, not a state of being. It is a direction, not a destination.”

~ Tal Ben-Shahar from The Pursuit of Perfect

Tal Ben-Shahar is quickly becoming my favorite author/teacher.

In fact, he might already be there. :)

As a former Harvard professor who taught THE most popular class in Harvard’s history (on Positive Psychology), he’s an incredible blend of brilliant thinker, passionate teacher, scientific-realist and get-out-and-rock-it-dreamer. LOVE. It.

His first book, Happier (see Notes), provides us with an inspiring snap shot on the science of happiness packed with wisdom and exercises we can immediately apply to our lives.

This book is all about understanding the perils of pursuing a life of perfection and offers an empowering alternative: the way of the “Optimalist.”

It’s one of those books that’s an absolute joy to read and a challenge to write a Note on because the book is basically one unending string of *really* Great Ideas. I’m excited to share a handful of my favorites with you and if you’re resonating with it, I think you’ll LOVE the book. Let’s rock!

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About the author


Tal Ben-Shahar

Helps people "bring happiness to life."