As we search for the perfect life, we are usually identifying perfection as the absence of conflict
and the achievement of the correct circumstances. Our idea of perfection relies mainly on
comparing ourselves to others, from seeing their lives from the outside, from our projections of
what they are experiencing. From this false perception of the lives and circumstances of others,
we may live with a sense of shame and feelings of inadequacy at not having arrived at the perfect
What is needed desperately by those of us who want to live lives of happiness and fulfillment is a
new definition of perfection. One that takes into consideration the whole of our human experience
as a great life experiment.
Long before we learned to compare ourselves to others as a way of gauging perfection and
success, in our early childhood, it was enough for us to just be as we were. All of life’s
possibilities were open to us to explore without the responsibility of forcing any kind of outcome,
and we didn’t judge anything as failures or successes. All of our experiences were a process of
deepening our character and of becoming unique individuals who were finding their place in the
As we grew and became more integrated into our societies, the natural feeling of individual worth
eventually gave way to an idea of perfection that we needed to achieve in order to please our
parents, teachers, and friends. We succumbed to the idea that there was a whole world out there
of which we knew nothing and were completely unprepared to navigate. As we scrambled to
catch up with everyone else, we forgot that we were once perfect just as we were with our
naivete, our skinned knees, our fantasies and our disappointments.
We are called at midlife to finally embrace a mature model of perfection that transcends our
adolescent reactionary one. We will need to redefine for ourselves through our gained experience
and wisdom a vision of human life that contains the polarities of joy and suffering, gain and loss,
love and heartbreak, and health and illness as components of a perfect life. These experiences
happen to everyone to some extent, and if we want to call them imperfect, then we’re taking
exception to the ways of the universe itself. We are actually saying that existence, which provides
these experiences to each individual, is somehow wrong and needs to be fixed.
The perfect life indeed contains the polarities of experience as well as a good deal of conflict and
difficulty. If we can see that we actually need these things to grow and develop as authentic
individuals, we would see that their absence is what would make our lives imperfect. We would
have no way to challenge outdated beliefs, overcome perceived limitations, or expand our
awareness of ourselves without them. In fact, we can thank the difficulties that we strenuously
avoid for the potential growth that they can provide us. There is no amount of easy, outward
success that can deepen us as much as encountering and overcoming difficulties can.
So in redefining the perfect life, using the life lessons we’ve lived through as valuable
information, we can include every experience that arrives at our door going forward as part of the
perfection of life instead of our perfect life. We will see that it is far better to move with what
existence is sending us as perfect rather than trying to contrive perfection from a limited and
fearful mindset. As we open ourselves to the larger possibilities of personal fulfillment and
purpose, we will include our bumps and scrapes as well as our hugs and kisses as the perfection
of a more expansive life experience.
Ben’s new Summoning Genius class is being held each Wednesday night from 7-8:30 PM at
Peace House in Ashland. For more information on Ben’s therapy services and classes, go to
benhummell.com or call 541-201- 8115.