It was a wise man who said: "Only in grammar can you be more than perfect." And an Italian proverb warns us wryly: "He that will have a perfect brother must resign himself to remain brotherless."
And here is a brilliant piece of inductive reasoning: "I am a nobody. Nobody is perfect. Therefore, I am perfect."
The spirit of tolerance and acceptance is essential to a happy life and a peaceful mind. The world we live in is far from perfect; we are not ourselves paragons of perfection; and the same goes for the people around us. As they say, it's a crazy, mixed-up world but we must recognise ourselves as part of all this imperfection, and accept life as it comes.
How and when can looking for perfection become problematic? Psychologists have the answer:
• Obsessive concern over others' mistakes
• Setting excessively high standards for ourselves and others around us
• Unreasonable doubts about others' ability to perform tasks
• An overemphasis on 'control' and 'benchmarks'
Striving for perfection, while accepting that perfection rarely can be achieved, can lead to growth and development and a feeling of satisfaction. It can be a powerful motivator as long as it is based on reasonable standards and expectations.
Thus far, I have been saying that we must understand that no one is perfect: let me add a note of request now; this does not mean that we must stop striving for perfection! And no, I am not contradicting myself! We must constantly strive for perfection. To most of us, this striving for perfection will be a lifelong journey, for as someone has said, perfection is always a moving target.
Let us strive for perfection so that we may know how difficult it is to achieve; and, in this process of striving, let us come to understand, condone and accept imperfection in our fellow human beings, especially those who are in a subordinate position to us.
What does it mean to be compassionate and gentle, kind and loving and patient? It is surely to accept people with their imperfections and weaknesses, and still continue to appreciate their worth. If they are imperfect, why, so are we!
(Dada J.P. Vaswani is humanitarian, philosopher, educator, acclaimed writer, powerful orator, messiah of ahimsa, and non-sectarian spiritual leader.)