Perfect Is The Enemy Of Good

The above aphorism is commonly attributed to the French philosopher Voltaire. Voltaire was the pen name under which the author, François-Marie Arouet published a number of books and pamphlets in 18th century France. He was a key figure in the Enlightenment, and notably was quite controversial in his day, due largely to the critical nature of his writing.

His work drew on the many essays of Aristotle, Confucius, and other classical philosophers, who advanced, among other things, the principle of the “golden mean” which counseled against extremism.

Let me explain this theory by using simple math. The 80–20 concept explains it this way: it commonly takes 20% of the full time allocated to complete 80% of a task, while to complete the last 20% of that task takes 80% of the effort. Another way to look at this theory is 20% of your surroundings (people, obstacles, health issues) yield 80% of your problems, and the corollary effect should thus allow us to focus on the greater good of 80% VS the 20% obstacles to our wellbeing.

With that in mind achieving absolute perfection may be impossible, and any increase in effort will result in diminishing returns, thus any further activity becomes increasingly inefficient.

So you may be asking “where are you going with this.” To my many breast cancer friends and loved ones I offer the following:

We do not need the perfect when we can thrive with the good. Seeking the perfect in writing, art, cooking, appearance, relationships, health, etc., may be harmful to our ephemeral wellbeing.

Keep in mind that you beat cancer by how you live your life. Therefore it’s best to live that life on your own terms.

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