The Pursuit of Perfect: How to Stop Chasing and Start Living a Richer, Happier Life

Tal Ben-Shahar, Ph.D.

McGraw Hill,  April 2009

"We, learn to walk by falling, to talk by babbling, to shoot a basket by missing, and to color the inside of a square by scribbling outside the box."

For the last decade, Tal Ben-Shahar has been "teaching happiness" in his Popular Harvard University course and in seminars across the world. What he discovered after speaking to thousands of stressed-out students, parents, and professionals is that most of us aspire to a life that is not just happier but perfect -- which explains why so many of us are unhappy.

In The Pursuit Of Perfect, Ben-Shahar offers a more realistic alternative. Applying cutting-edge principles of positive psychology, he identifies two ways of living whose distinct patterns of behavior provide an important key to our understanding of success and self-fulfillment. They are the Perfectionist and the Optimalist, and there's a little bit of both in all of us . . .

The Perfectionist views life's journey as a straight line. The Optitmalist sees it as an irregular spiral.

The Perfectionist is afraid of failure. The Optimialist uses failure as feedback.

The Perfectionist is rigid, critical, and defensive. The Optimalist is adaptable, forgiving, and open to suggestion.

The Perfectionist focuses on the "destination," setting goals that are overly ambitious or unobtainable. The Optimalist focuses on the joumey and the destination.

According to Ben-Shahar, we can learn a lot from these types. By rejecting the all-or-nothing thinking of the Perfectionist and embracing the more nuanced, complex mind-set of the Optimalist, we can learn to accept our failures along with our successes -- and lead much happier lives.

Do You Want Your Life To Be Perfect?

We're all laboring under society's expectation to be perfect in every way -- to look younger, to make more money, to be happy all the time. But according to Tal Ben-Shahar, the New York Times bestselling author of Happier, the pursuit of "perfect" may actually be the number-one obstacle to finding happiness.

Or Do You Want Your Life To Be Happier?

Using groundbreaking research in the field of positive psychology -- the scientific principles taught in his widly popular course at Harvard University -- Ben-Shahar takes us off the impossible pursuit of perfection and directs us to the way to happiness, richness, and true fulfillment. He shows us an optimal way of thinking about failure and success.

He provides self-reflective exercises, meditations, and "Time-Ins" to help you rediscover what you really want out of life. And he makes a convincing case that you don't have to be perfect to be perfectly happy.

hardcover | ISBN: 9780071608824 | Publication Date: April 2009

"The Pursuit of Perfect drew me in immediately and kept me captivated for hours. Tal Ben-Shahar seamlessly weaves personal examples, Gladwellian stories, and illuminating research findings to impart a valuable message. Every person concerned with success -- and that includes most of us - -should read this book."
-Sonja Lyubomirsky, author of  The How of Happiness

"'This book will inspire you to realize your innate potential for happiness and awaken the genuine aspiration to change, while avoiding the trap of perfectionism and the unrealistic demands of the ego."
--Mattbieu Ricard, author of Happiness: A Guide to Developing Life's Most Important Skill

"Tal Ben-Shahar has done it again! In Happier, he invited us to rethink our assumptions about happiness and what it depends on. Now, in The Pursuit of Perfect, he invites us to discard the fallacy that the pursuit of 'perfect' is the best indicator of success and happiness."
--Nathaniel Branden, author of The Six Pillars of Self-Esteem