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

4.05  ·  Rating details ·  1,376 ratings  ·  107 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 Education (first published 2009)
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 ·  1,376 ratings  ·  107 reviews

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Mario Tomic
Aug 31, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This big idea of the book is to give you tool to get out of pursuing a life of perfection. The author also offers a more realistic alternative to a perfectionist, becoming an optimalist. Overall the book is loaded with great ideas and lessons on emotional mastery and happiness. My favorite quote is: "Perfectionism and optimalism are not distinct ways of being, an either-or choice, but rather they coexist in each person. And while we can move from perfectionism toward optimalism, we never fully l ...more
Kiwi Begs2Differ  ✎
Several interesting points about perfectionism. I liked the author’s views on the consequences in the individual’s relationship and society in general, e.g work, parenting and marriage. 3.5 stars

Favourite quotes:

“We now have a workforce full of people who need constant reassurance and can’t take criticism. Not a recipe for success in business, where taking on challenges, showing persistence, and admitting and correcting mistakes are essential.”

A new generation of children is being raised by adul
Oct 17, 2009 rated it liked it
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.
Jan 06, 2015 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Desmond Sherlock
Jun 10, 2012 rated it liked it
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.
Apr 17, 2019 rated it it was ok
There is some good information in this book, but there's also some places were Ben-Shahar completely goes off the rails. It's like his research hit his personal prejudices like a wall and exploded in a shower of cognitive dissonance. For example, there's this bizarre political bit in the middle. It appears that he was unable to accept that both ends of the political spectrum have some ideas that work well with human nature, and some that require humans to fundamentally change. Therefore, in orde ...more
Sep 02, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Nice book on treating your perfectionism. It contains several nice receipts on changing your attitude to life and to your own achievements to make them make you feel happy and fully feel your life. The first part contains big theory-filled chapters describing origins of negative treats of perfectionism and related problems you can have due to them. They prove why you shouldn't reject any feelings and emotions even if they are considered as 'bad', 'wrong' or 'unproductive' (greetings to animation ...more
Jul 26, 2009 rated it really liked it
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
Dec 10, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Tal Ben-Shahar is one of my favourite authors on positive psychology and this book reaffirms it. According to Ben-Shahar, one of the major obstacles to becoming happier is because we aspire to a life that is perfect. There is a general assumption that truly happy people are immune from feeling sadness, fear, anxiety or setbacks in life. While positive perfectionism is adaptive and healthy, and motivates us to work hard, negative perfectionism is maladaptive and neurotic with an intense fear of f ...more
Dave Irwin
Sep 15, 2017 rated it liked it
I see how this can link with other books I have consumed over the past year but it just doesn't stick out in my mind as much. I enjoyed it but found I faded in and out of concentration a lot while I went through it. It isn't a bad book though. Basic lessons are that the stress of perfection negatively affects us more than we think it does. It adds stress and we should be aware of it while also acknowledging that it is a double edged sword. The pursuit of perfection can have its benefits as a mot ...more
Ibis Verson
Sep 25, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Amazing book. Very practical and concice. I strongly recommend it. Teaches you by example and scientific facts how to live and accept and imperfect life. As well as to manage your own perfectionism
Dec 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Great Book! I really loved it. The main theme of the book is to live like Optimalist. In our world most of the people chasing for perfection But Tal Ben Shahar mentioned that don't chase for perfection chase for optimalism.

Author: Ex Perfectionist now truned into Optimalist i.e Tal Ben Shahar. He is a great and successful teacher in positive psychology. In this book he mentioned his simple theory, I.e.

Good or Bad, Positive or Negative , Success or Failure, Happy or Sad, Be an Optimalist.

Want to
Dec 26, 2019 rated it it was ok
I liked the part where he references Classical Philosophy, esp. his view of identity in Platonic and Aristotelean thought. I'm not a philosopher, so I wouldn't know how much a philosopher would agree with the views in the book, but they resonated as I had just thought of something akin to what Ben-Shahar wrote, a day before reading it in the book. It was validation or confirmation that I wasn't alone in thinking along those lines. Other than that, the idea of optimalism seemed to fade away a bit ...more
May 30, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This is a secondary referral: meaning I heard Kevin Worthen quote from it and decided it might be worth looking into.

This book had it all... in the simplest language possible.
It talked about recovery from grief, how to avoid perfectionism, how to live with anxiety and where it comes from. I loved it. And would definitely recommend it highly. A simple read that contains enough truth to feel like you have something to chew on for the next couple of days.

Fun Fact: It was first published under "Be
Michelle Nguyen
Apr 13, 2018 rated it really liked it
The first 40 pages are absolutely imperative information that really revealed a lot about how I see myself and my understanding of the world around me. The book does offer a lot of great advice and comes up with concepts proven with anecdotal experience. However, it becomes diluted in the middle--this book could have easily been a long essay, and gotten the same ideas across. While it was a great conversation to have, it should not have spanned an entire book. Just read the first half and you ge ...more
Sandra Niko
Dec 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2019
It is one of the books that came to me at the right time in the right place. I had some issues with perfectionism lately up to anxiety and panic attacks. There were a lot on stakes and a lot more that I created in my mind, this book helped me to rethink and to come back to the real me.
I realize how hard it is to be perfect all the time with all of the hopes of others on your performance. But understanding your limits and giving up sometimes in some spheres of your life is okay. It is actually p
Anne Ku
Jun 09, 2017 rated it really liked it
Excellent! I knew that being a perfectionism would one day have negative consequences but I didn't know what or the extent of it until I listened to the audiobook. The author coined the term "optimalist" which is a better goal than perfectionist. He also talks about the correlation between perfectionism and fixed mindset; optimalist and the growth mindset. Great examples.
Jeanne T
Sep 02, 2019 rated it it was ok
Some insightful points about avoiding perfectionism, although most of the points mentioned are pretty commonsense. A lot of the advice are things that I already know yet find hard to implement. I do like the application part where the author discusses optimal parenting, work, love etc.
Feb 22, 2018 rated it liked it
Perfectionism vs. optimalism. A self-help book like many others riding on the shoulders of Nathaniel Branden.
Apr 17, 2018 rated it liked it
Audiobook- this didn’t click with me
Sep 28, 2018 rated it really liked it
Good. I listened to the whole book in one day while working on home projects. Lots of good stuff inside this.
Nov 25, 2018 rated it really liked it
lots of interesting information from various studies.
Nov 29, 2018 rated it really liked it
This is such a great read, especially if you have ever felt like you struggle with being a perfectionist.
Mariya Manahova
Jan 30, 2019 rated it really liked it
Quite a nice book. I enjoyed the general message, the personal episodes, and especially the ten meditations at the end.
May 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This book changed my life.
Nov 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Life-changing stuff. Evidence-based. There is hope for us after all!
Mr Gary
Jun 26, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Part memoir, part self-help book this is a fantastic read for anyone - not just those of us who suffer from perfectionistic tendencies.
Jul 17, 2020 rated it liked it
Interesting ideas and I enjoyed the first part of the book very much, but the Meditation part seemed preachy and showed the author as his most perfection self. Yep, I went there.
Mar 14, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites, read-again
The Pursuit of Perfect by Tal Ben-Shahar
Extraordinary book

Tal Ben-Shahar is the author of this wonderful book and he has also been one of the most successful teachers at Harvard.
His lectures on positive psychology have become the most popular in the history of the institution that itself has been one of the best universities in the world
If you are interested, you can watch the courses that are available on YouTube.
I strongly recommend them and the abovementioned fact that one in five students at
Sep 30, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of the best books ever, imperfection is life/love and it rules. Amen. :-)
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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

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