Perfectionism kills Happiness

article_imageBy raising your expectations to an unrealistically high standard (that can never be met) you will elude happiness and satisfaction in life. Being more happy with your life requires that you let go of these expectations and learn to be more content with how things are, rather than how you picture they should be in an utopian “ideal world.” this is what the web-based “The Emotion Machine” proposes, based on a number of recent studies done on the subject. Importantly, many studies have shown that your preoccupation with perfectionism can destroy your happiness.

Perfectionism, or refusal to accept any standard short of perfection, in essence is “the inability to be happy with something until it is perfect, without any flaws whatsoever. Of course, the problem with this mindset, the scientists believe, is that perfectionism is often an illusion. Life rarely works out exactly the way we want, in any scenario – whether it’s relationships, work, or goals.

Perfectionism leads to feelings of regret and dissatisfaction

Recently, the Journal of Consumer Psychology published the results of a study that found that a “must have the best” mindset can magnify feelings of regret and dissatisfaction. Psychologists call this “maximizing mindset” and identify it as one of the symptoms of perfectionism.

“The Emotion Machine” cautioned, “We always seek to choose the best possible option in every given scenario, but that’s not always possible”.

Hand in hand these findings are the results of another published in the Journal of Rational-Emotive & Cognitive-Behavior Therapy, titled “Perfectionism as a predictor of post-event rumination”. Authors Jaclyn R. Brown and Nancy L. Kocovski, two academics from the Wilfrid Laurier University, Waterloo, Canada, argue that perfectionism can lead to more “post-event rumination.” This means that after something happens to us, we are much more likely to continue to think about it and second-guess our choices. This makes it much more harder to let go of our past decisions, and especially our past mistakes.

Perfectionism hurts our relationships

An interesting on the effects of perfectionism on romantic relationships were carried out by Prof.s Spike W. S. Lee of the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management and Norbert Schwarz of the University of Southern California, which was later published in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology. Titled “When it hurts to think we were made for each other” it reveals some disturbing evidence on how perfectionism hurts our intimate relationships.

Romantic couples who see their relationships as a “perfect unity” (“we are soul mates” or “we’re made for each other”) are more prone to relationship problems than those who view their relationship as a “journey” (“we grow together” or “look how far we’ve come”) concluded the researchers. They further said, “This makes sense. Every relationship is going to have problems we have to work through. But if you think you both are absolutely perfect for each other, then it’s going to be hard to accept and deal with the highs and lows of every relationship”.

Prof. Lee and Schwarz in a bit of advice said, “Next time you and your partner have a conflict, think what you said at the altar, “I, ____, take you, ____, to be my husband/wife, to have and to hold from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness or in health, to love and to cherish; from this day forward ‘till death do us part.” It’s a journey. You’ll feel better now, and you’ll do better down the road.

Perfectionism negatively influences your work

One of the most common effects of perfectionism is how it influences our work and personal goals.

A study titled “Perfectionism, procrastination, and psychological distress” published in the Journal of Counseling Psychology showed how individuals who have greater tendency for perfectionism are more likely to procrastinate. When we have a perfectionist mentality, it’s really hard to swallow our pride and say “I’m done”. Instead, we find ourselves constantly changing things, tweaking every little detail, and working non-stop. Along the same lines, a study (titled “Perfectionism and workaholism in employees”) conducted by the School of Psychology, University of Kent, UK on the effects of perfectionism on work performance found that perfectionism leads to an unhealthy drive to never stop working, which can often lead to more stress, fatigue, and burnout.

Perfectionism hurts our self-esteem and body image

A titled “The role of perfectionism in body dissatisfaction” published in the Journal of Eating Disorders, perfectionism can also hurt our body image and play a role in the development of eating disorders. The researchers from the Flinders University in Adelaide, Australia opined “We commonly compare our body appearances to the “ideals” we find in movies, TV, magazines, and other forms of entertainment. This can lead us to set our own standards incredibly high, which will often lead to disappointment in our own bodies”.

As you can see, perfectionism can destroy our health and happiness in many different areas of our lives. It’s an attitude that we have to be very careful of. “The Emotion Machine” suggests ways to think less like a perfectionist in your daily life.

Begin to think,

1. “Mistakes are a normal part of everyday life”

2. “Failure is often a necessary step toward success”

3. “It’s not about being the best, but trying your best”

4. “No single event in the past defines you. Move forward”

5. “You’re always growing as an individual”

6. “Focus on the bigger picture more than the details”

7. “Your flaws and imperfections are what make you unique”

8. “There are always new obstacles to overcome”

9. “You accept the ups and downs in life with grace”


Unfortunately this blogger has this failing