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

4.0 of 5 stars 4.00  ·  rating details  ·  418 ratings  ·  50 reviews

We're all laboring under our own and society's expectations 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 internal obstacle to finding happiness.

Hardcover, 246 pages
Published April 1st 2009 by McGraw-Hill (first published January 1st 2009)
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My boyfriend's father, after reading this book I presume, gave a copy to both my boyfriend and my boyfriend's brother and sister-in-law. I opened up this book and read one chapter, and knew I should read the rest. And so I did... and felt like I was reading a book about myself in many cases. Pursuit of Perfect is worth a second read... some parts were obvious, but other parts, especially the meditations at the end, might be really good for me.

Because I did an excessive amount of underlining when
Oct 23, 2009 pri rated it 3 of 5 stars
Shelves: 2009
Good mix of information. A lot of references to sources I've read in the past - but good to see them reinforced again. Deals with the concept of failure and perfectionism and the preferred way to handle some situations. not life changing - but an interesting read that has made me think about myself a bit differently.
Richard Sparks
Like Ben Shahar's earlier book Happiness, the one has some great insights and suggestions on how to improve your life by giving up trying to be perfect. The Perfectionist is never satisfied or happy. When you expect an unending string of successes, positive emotions, and everything goes perfectly as planned, you're being unrealistic. Strive to be an Optimalist instead. Recognize that perfect is impossible, occasional failure is inevitable, negative and painful emotions sometimes happen. Accept r ...more
Aug 29, 2009 Mozart rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: perfectionist, people that deal with success/failure, people dealing with making mistakes
In this amazing book, Tal Ben-Shahar does something that very few personal development/self-help authors do; he genuinely self disclosed. He shared his own pitfalls, some devastating stories, and he related them back to empirical research from the field of religion, positive psychology, and philosophy.

This book is thorough, he not only explores how to deal w/ perfectionism as an individual, he also talks about education and privilege, love, growing older, suffering, the "golden" rule, optimal w
Desmond Sherlock
Ex-perfectionist, Positive Psychologist and now converted Optimalist, Tal Ben-Shahar's dissertation is about the "positive"s of his new status, as an optimiser of his time, energy and emotions and the "negatives" of being a Perfectionist. To me, his theory is simplistic, to say the least, using oodles of dichotomies like:
Positive or Negative, Good or Bad, Success or Failure, Appreciate or Depreciate, Mindful or Mindless
Happiness or Sadness, Acceptance or Rejection, Perfectionist or Optimalist.
Ilya Kalimulin
Неожиданно хорошая книга. В каждой главе есть "разминки" - небольшие приёмы или вопросы, используя которые, можно лучше понять как себя, так и других людей, и затем изменить свои привычки, решить назревшую проблемы. В конце глав есть "упражнения", тоже упражнения, но уже требующие больше времени на выполнение. Кроме них, в книге есть советы по ходу дела, разбор типовых ситуаций на примере автора или известных личностей.

Также интересно, что затронуты сразу несколько областей: личная продуктивност
Mar 29, 2011 Gina rated it 5 of 5 stars
Shelves: own
I LOVED this book: the first page, the last page, and every page in between. This is NOT a self help book. The book is written by Harvard psychology professor Tal Ben-Shahar. The point of the book is to help the reader (assumed to be a perfectionist) the reasons why perfectionism is NOT effective and is NOT the best way to achieve goals. The book talks a lot about emotions and how when we deny our emotions, they only fester and become stronger. We must accept our emotions, whatever they may be, ...more
I felt light headed and tingly while reading this book. I couldn't understand how someone fit so much wisdom into a flap of board around a sheaf of papers. It looks like any other book, but it will shift your view of reality to align with happiness and greater success.

My favorite part was about Langer and Thompson's study that shows people have trouble changing a bad habit if they value the positive side of that trait. It's hard to not be rigid if you value being consistent. This made it possib
David Hooper
Got this thinking it didn't apply to me, but thought that it sounded interesting.

When I took the SAT and ACT exams to get into college, if I didn't know the answer immediately or just didn't feel like spending time figuring something out, I'd put down "B" and move on. According to this book, that's a sign of perfectionism. So I guess it did apply to me after all. :)

Regardless of my perfectionist tendencies, I was pleasantly surprised at how enjoyable this book was and have since purchased copie
Lori Ben-ezra
This book gets three stars only because the author recycles so much of his material from one book to another. I just suggest everyone should read one.
Aleh Piatrou
Рекомендую всем кто как и я склонен к нездоровому перфекционизму. В русском переводе называется "Парадокс перфекциониста".
Haider Al-Mosawi
This book is highly recommended for perfectionists and non-perfectionists alike.

It takes a very rational and healthy perspective towards perfectionism, understanding the world and accepting our nature as human beings.

It looks at the importance of failure towards success and how negative emotions contribute to happiness.

I especially loved the comparison between Plato's outlook on reality and how that leads to perfectionism, and Aristotle's outlook, which leads to optimalism (a healthy alternative
A solid 3.5 stars. This book contains many useful activities and I found it to be illuminating.
The best advice I've heard all year is to follow The Platinum Rule (sister of the Golden Rule), which is "Treat yourself the way you would treat others." The author distills the most basic advice to be as happy and sane as you can be in this crazy world: You will suffer, and it will hurt, but you will become stronger. You are not perfect, and will never be perfect, so don't try to be. Don't be afraid to fail, and fail multiple times. Accept reality and become an "optimalist." The perfect book fo ...more
Devin Partlow
This is just a summary of a bunch of other popular books
Mary Piper
This is a helpful book for any perfectionist out there. It explores common causes of perfectionism, how it can hinder success in life, and what one can do to counter perfectionist tendencies. There are exercises in the back for the reader to do in order to dig deeper into attitudes and beliefs. I learned that not every task in life demands our best efforts; some tasks can be done well with only minimal effort. Applying perfectionist attitude to all of life's tasks is a recipe for burnout.
Combining the the best of current thinking, this book is extremely helpful in navigating away from traps of perfectionism while providing practical advice for becoming an "Optimizer"--someone who understands that failure is essential to learning, that critique brings ideas and improvement, and that consciously determining what is "good enough" is the route to a satisfying life. Great thought questions, meditations, exercises woven in with research, stories and views from experts in many fields.
Even if you don't think of yourself as a perfectionist, this book will probably make you do some cringing in recognition. Ben Shahar lays out a persuasive case that failure is an essential part of learning and rejecting it is a recipe for lessening both success and happiness! There's an odd section near the end where he tries to use the argument that it's good to accept certain things as fixed as a way to reject communism (?) but in general, it's both useful and interesting.
The majority of my childhood was a complete pursuit of perfection till I got to high school. I was captain of every sport, learn to do everything a bit better. When I got to high school my lack of perfection caused a complete mental downward spiral into depression that lasted to adulthood. I read this book a couple years ago and it really changed my life and made me realize that I was ok where I was and that I didn't need to be "Perfect".
A decent book on Perfectionism. " A fixed mind-set (The Perfectionist) leads to an intense fear of failure and to catastrophizing failure when it does happen; a growth mind-set (The Optamalist) leads to perceiving failure as an opportunity for growth and development." Most of the book is about getting from Perfectionism to becoming an Optamalist.

The Platinum rule: " Do not do unto yourself what you would not do unto others."

Like most of this type of book, it's an article stretched out into many many many more pages. While the ideas are great, they don't deserve a full book. Each point is annoyingly belabored. It's also interesting to me that personally I ended up feeling that this has really nothing to add to my own life--that reading the bible these last few months has provided far more 'self help' than any self help book can.
Great book...! absolutely useful...!
After reading this book I realize what I can do to live better. Looking for a "perfect life" means wasting my time, It doesn't make any sense because I think it doesn't exist.

This book has a strong self-help tone and it is not very dense, but it provides insights that are difficult to reach by yourself. Very helpful and positive, it helped me in many ways. There is an interesting meditation where the author presents Cognitive Therapy in contrast to Psychoanalysis and Behaviourism. Overall Tal's reflections are quite valuable and everyone should consider reading them.
Zahra Clayborne
The perfectionist in me appreciated the advice given by Ben Shahar. I found it too similar to Happier, though, which I read first. Both books are great if you want to learn more about Positive Psychology. I'm not into self-help so I appreciate a more objective approach to happiness. I have utilized a lot of Ben Shahar's tips to great success.
I read this book to start dealing with my perfectionism. Originally recommended by my dentist, and now by myself. It's a straightforward read and I got through it relatively quickly. I loved the part about embracing aging. Encourages you to incorporate more optimalism into your life. Couldn't we all use a little more of that?
Matt Nolan
Not the first book I've read on positive psychology, but a great introduction to it for anyone (and a great addition to my thoughts on the subject), whether looking to learn about the field or not. Probably wouldn't be a bad hand-out to incoming first years on any campus in the country.
Yvonne Jarrett
This was a great book on moving away from perfection and moving toward optimalism. Tal Ben-Shahar gives great personal examples and ways to make changes in life. He also writes in a way that each chapter or section reinforces the next and ties it all up, I love that. Great book.
Per André
Tons of wisdom and practical advice
on how to go from perfectionism and fear of failure to optimalism. A must read for the highly ambitious.

The way he incorporates mindfulness and reality checks into the mix, comes out as a very healthy blend.

So much to quote; just read it :)
Loved it! If you ever feel the doldrums of being caught in a downward spiral about your the lack of time in your schedule, insecurities about yourself, need to control every situation, getting mad a minute things in your life, then this is the book for you!

This book for me was interesting and hopeful. I could identify myself in every page, and with each word I progressed through, I felt lighter and more capable. I don't typically read these types of books, but am thankful that I have.
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Tal Ben-Shahar (Hebrew: טל בן-שחר‎, also known as Tal David Ben-Shachar) is an Israeli teacher and writer in the areas of positive psychology and leadership.

Tal Ben-Shahar taught at Harvard, where his classes on Positive Psychology and The Psychology of Leadership were among the most popular courses in the University's history. Today Tal teaches at the Interdisciplinary Center, Herzliya.

Tal receiv
More about Tal Ben-Shahar...
Happier: Learn the Secrets to Daily Joy and Lasting Fulfillment Choose the Life You Want: The Way to Lasting Happiness Moment by Moment Being Happy: You Don't Have to Be Perfect to Lead a Richer, Happier Life Even Happier: A Gratitude Journal for Daily Joy and Lasting Fulfillment The Question of Happiness: On Finding Meaning, Pleasure, and the Ultimate Currency

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