We all like to think we can have a perfect life. We dream and scheme and execute intricate plans over long periods of time in the pursuit of things that we think will make us happy. Homes. Cars. Jobs. Even relationships. Why? Because these things are attainable. We have some semblance of control over them. And because of this, we pour our idea of happiness into these concepts – empty moulds waiting to be filled. The more we control, the happier we are, and the closer we get to the idea of perfection.

But what of things we don’t control? Like natural disasters. Sure, we can plan for them. We can evacuate, or buy backup generators and candles and batteries, but when nature shakes its mane – we’re all just fleas hanging on for dear life. Think earthquakes, tsunamis, tornadoes, and hurricanes. Hell, even rain and snow over prolonged periods can cause us to rethink our priorities in terms of what makes us happy in our pursuit of a perfect life.

Perfection is a funny word. It’s absolutely impossible to achieve, but it’s something we all strive for anyway. The perfect job. The perfect car. The perfect wife. Don’t forget the perfect kids. And their perfect education. And the perfect neighborhood to raise them in. But – perfection is an illusion. A great lie that we all buy into. Of course we do, since it appears that everyone around us is living seemingly perfect lives themselves. When we share our lives through Facebook posts and everything appears perfect, it makes others want to do the same. Except, perfection isn’t real. And we know it’s not real. It’s just a lot easier to pretend, than it is to face the truth that life is incredibly hard and that only in small moments is our life even close to perfect. Small moments aren’t marketable and therefore don’t do anything to help us compete inside of our social circles.

Chaos, the kind of chaos that destroys our concept of perfection, swirls around us constantly. Though most of the time we just move around it like life-size pieces on a Candyland board. When we can’t, we’re forced to reassess our idea of perfection and happiness. If you’re reading this and you’re breathing, and you’re not in pain, and you’ve got electricity, and you’ve got a wife to lay next to as you sleep comfortably under a roof that isn’t leaking – then your life is perfect. If only for a moment. Because somewhere on the planet, someone who had a seemingly perfect life is dealing with life-changing chaos. And it could be you in the blink of an eye. Without warning.

Perfection is attainable to every one of us at any moment – as long as we understand what really makes us happy. Little things. Seemingly insignificant moments. These are the foundations of happiness. Because when chaos appears – and it will – you’ll have to be reminded of this fact. Don’t wait. Embrace your own perfection with your next breath. And be grateful.


Jim Mitchem


Why I Love New Yorkers
The Secret to Happiness

Jim Mitchem

Writer. Father to daughters. Husband. Ad man. Raised by wolves. @jmitchem on twitter. First novel, Minor King, out now.

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