I read in a survey that the average American only has 15 “perfect days” per year. When I first came across these words, my eyebrows furrowed. A “perfect day”—What does that even mean? Is it the same for everyone? Different? Is it measurable? And why are there so little of these days that we’re truly experiencing?
When I was younger, I was obsessed with perfection. Everything from my shoelaces to my hair ribbons needed to look exactly right. I wanted the highest grades in the class. I wanted to cross off all the goals on my list within a reasonable amount of time. I wanted to hit the most home runs, jump the farthest, kick the strongest. I wanted to have the shiniest start on the board, etc. etc. etc.
And this wasn’t because of the way I was raised. Sure, my parents encouraged me to do my best and sure, I was born into a culture where pushing yourself is healthy (it is, within reason of course). But for some reason, I was always striving for this unobtainable perfection. And if I’m being honest, in many ways I still am.
Even as an adult, (and even though I know sometimes it’s self-destructive), I like to run after this ideal sense of self, sense of life. I like to imagine what everything would look like, how it would feel if I somehow just finished that next project, bought that new thing, got myself to that new level.
More or less, I’ve come to terms with the ridiculousness of pressuring myself to be something I’m physically or mentally incapable of being, but the feeling of more more more is still there. And of course I know, now, that I can’t have everything together all the time. I know, now, the value of slowing down and learning to be still. I know, now, how valuable it is to enjoy the process instead of always searching for the next best thing on the list. But sometimes I still get caught up.
But what does this perfection really look like? And would I even know if I found it?
These are the questions I ask myself, and perhaps we all need to ask ourselves more often. We live in a world that’s, as a whole, pretty fast-paced. Though this can be exciting, motivating, encouraging, empowering—it can also set us into a spiral, too. We can get so caught up in running towards a dream that we don’t see what we’ve already created all around us. We don’t see all the little steps, triumphs, goals we’ve met along the way. We don’t see the little things.
And maybe it’s those little things that give us the true glimpse of perfection. Not the endless chase.
In the survey conducted by the U.S. Highbrush Blueberry Council on “perfect days,” people mentioned those little things as what defined their sense of happiness—anything from petting a dog to finding a few bucks on the street had the power to turn an entire day around—not being the best, having the greatest things, meeting all the goals on the list.
“From walking into an air-conditioned room on a hot day to holding hands with someone you love, the list reveals that the smallest things can have the biggest impact on our moods.” the survey says, “In fact, almost half of Americans (46 percent) perk up simply from realizing that it’s a beautiful, sunny day.”
How powerful is that?
Perfection isn’t really about what you have or how far you have left to go, but about seeing and acknowledging the abundance already around you.
According to the study, the average respondent defined a “perfect day” as getting up around 8:15 a.m., spending at least three hours outside in a temperature of 74 degrees Fahrenheit, seeing and spending time with at least two friends, socializing for at least three hours, exercising, reading, spending time with family, unwinding in front of the TV or listening to music, relaxing for about four hours total, and going to sleep around 10:50 p.m.”
What strikes me the most about what we consider “perfection” is nothing outside of what’s “normal” in our everyday lives.
So maybe it’s not about trying to get the best grades, best house, best car. Maybe it’s not about toeing a line, having it all figured out. Maybe it’s not about earning the most money, having the fanciest items in your closet, finding the ideal person to fall in love with.
Maybe, instead, we need to shift our focus and attention on all the things we so often overlook.
Perfection, really, is all around us.
And how beautiful is that?!
To see the survey in its entirety, click here