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Sunday, August 30, 2015

Elul 16 - When “Good Enough” Really is Good Enough - by Emily Cohen

When “Good Enough” really is Good Enough. I find myself falling into this trap often. Far more often than I’d like to admit. Booking a vacation, buying a car, even at the grocery store yesterday when deciding which canister of cinnamon roll dough to buy. In an article in The Atlantic titled “The Power of ‘Good Enough,’” Swarthmore University Psychologist Barry Schwartz describes this as “choice overload.” This phenomenon means that when we are presented many options (and have easy access to information, i.e.: we can research and compare on the internet), we are actually less happy. Schwartz says choice overload makes us question our decisions, set our expectations too high, and blame ourselves for our mistakes.

I can certainly testify to this! If I’m not mindful, I can get sucked in. For example, instead of just accepting a nice hotel that’s close to the restaurants and sites we want to visit, I can spend hours researching to make sure there’s not a hotel that’s nicER or closER. Typically, I genuinely enjoy this process and learning new things through my research. But sometimes I have to remind myself that I have an option that is “good enough,” and that is good enough.

During this reflective month of Elul, I wonder if this applies to the more important parts of life, well beyond just products and purchases. Do I allow myself to be happy when I myself am “good enough”? Of course, I aspire to be the perfect wife, perfect sister, daughter, friend, colleague, student, etc. I genuinely try my best to keep each of those relationships strong and connected. I tend to be extra hard on myself when I am not the perfect wife, sister, etc. What if I gave myself permission to be imperfect? To forgive myself in those situations where I am “good enough” at something, but not perfect? Reframing my decisions this way has been really illuminating and helpful so far during Elul and I look forward to further growth in the New Year.

Emily Cohen, Shaare Emeth Programming Specialist

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1 comment:

  1. WOW -- I really needed your blog post. I too strive for perfection and making all the right informed choices. After reading, I'm relaxing and breathing a sigh of relief. Good enough can be as you said, good enough. Thanks!
    ~Jan Fishman