The Pursuit of Perfect: Reviewed by Des Sherlock

The Pursuit of Perfect: How to Stop Chasing Perfection and Start Living a Richer, Happier LifeThe Pursuit of Perfect: How to Stop Chasing Perfection and Start Living a Richer, Happier Life by Tal Ben-Shahar
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Ex-perfectionist, Positive Psychologist and now converted Optimalist, Tal Ben-Shahar’s dissertation is about the “positive”s of his new status, as an optimiser of his time, energy and emotions and the “negatives” of being a Perfectionist. To me, his theory is simplistic, to say the least, using oodles of dichotomies like:
Positive or Negative, Good or Bad, Success or Failure, Appreciate or Depreciate, Mindful or Mindless
Happiness or Sadness, Acceptance or Rejection, Perfectionist or Optimalist.
I guess that comes with the territory of being a “Positive” psychologist as opposed to being a “Negative” one. That is: a world of simplistic, black and white concepts.

From the labelling of Plato as a Perfectionist and Aristotle an Optimalist, he paints what I think is a biased picture to try convert me into his way of thinking and life-balance choices.
Blaming the worlds woes on Perfectionist thinking, from Pol Pot to Stalin, and failed communist states, he seems to concludes that his dissertation on the Perfectionist and Optimalism is basically flawed as both poles, do not actually exist in reality as each one is more of an ideal to be aspired to.

Having excellent references to interesting philosophical and psychology theories to prove his point, he actually opens up the debate to reveal what I consider are the flaws in his theory.

Although, at times frustrating for me to read because of his obvious biases he has put a lot of effort into this book and that alone makes it worth reading and appreciated.

Thanks for your book, flaws and our recent discussion Tal.

My verdict? Not perfect!

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