Life is Not Perfect. Fortunately.


“Imperfection is in some sort essential to all that we know in life.” ― John Ruskin

Life is not perfect. We discover this truth early in life. And the longer we live, the more we see it to be true. In fact, the imperfections surround us in nearly every direction:

  • The world we live on is far from perfect. Famine, disasters, and calamity impact both the lives of those we know and the lives of those we’ve never met. Our world produces beauty, but it also produces great pain.
  • The people around us are far from perfect. Greed and selfishness prevail in every society. Prejudice and misconception harm relationships. While hatred and contempt have resulted in terrible consequences from the very beginning of time.
  • And unfortunately, we are far from perfect as well. We often get tripped up by temptation and addiction. We war within ourselves to do what is right. And we know, deep-down, there are far too many unhealthy tendencies that motivate our actions and decisions.

Life is not perfect. It never has been and it never will be. But this can be good news. It means we can stop pursuing the mystical, perfect life. It means we can stop chasing perfect skin, the perfect job, the perfect house, or the perfect spouse. It means we can find freedom to live within our imperfections.

In fact, the sooner we realize that perfection is not available to us in this world, the sooner we can begin living better lives because of the imperfections. Consider what the ongoing presence of our imperfection means. It means…

We can finally stop chasing happiness in perfection. Happiness is not something to be attained when everything around is perfect—it can’t be. Instead, it means we can find contentment and happiness and joy even in the midst of defect. And when we begin to realize happiness is fully available to us today regardless of our circumstance, the better our chances become of finding it.

We can relate to one another in our weakness. Once we fully understand that all people are imperfect by nature, we can stop pretending that we have it all together. I am imperfect and you are imperfect. So let’s stop pretending that we aren’t. Instead, let’s begin living authentic, vulnerable lives with another. For it is in our weakness that we find our greatest commonality and community.

We can fully admit that we need help. Because of our imperfections, we all have blind spots–tendencies that continually trip us up often without notice. These weaknesses and deficiencies are often seen by others—others who can help us overcome them. But not until we replace our pride with humility and seek the help of others.

We can learn to grow through our imperfection. We make imperfection our servant by learning from it. We all live with past regret. And our past will always define our past, but it does not need to define our present. When we begin to accept and recognize our weaknesses, we put ourselves in position to begin learning from them.

We can faithfully work to make things better. This world is imperfect. And as long as it is inhabited by imperfect humans, it will continue to be. This realization ought to spur us on to help make this world better. Not only because the world needs our service, but also because we do.

We can better appreciate the good we see around us. The mountaintops are high because the valleys are low. Without sorrow there is no joy. Imperfection brings beauty to the good. And because we know life is imperfect at best, we can find even greater joy in the little moments of triumph.

Life is not perfect, but it does go on. And when we learn to fully embrace both its beauty and its weakness, we create the opportunity to live victorious in both.

Image: VinothChandar

Joshua Becker

About Joshua Becker

Writer. Inspiring others to live more by owning less.
Bestselling author of Simplify & Clutterfree with Kids.

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    • says

      Love this quote Christy. Thanks for sharing it!

      Definitely sharing this blog, it’s awesome. So good to dispel the myth of striving for happiness in perfection when perfection doesn’t exist. I love the list of ways this opens us up to live in the present, particularly being able to relate to one another in weakness and asking for help. Often times this feels too vulnerable for many people.

      My perspective on vulnerability changed further after reading Brene Brown’s book Daring Greatly, which is such a brilliant book! Highly recommend it.

      Bernadette :)

  1. says

    Interesting perspective, Josh. It is a good thing isn’t it? In a perfect world I don’t think we’d be content because we wouldn’t have a baseline or anything to compare it to. Perfection would just be how it is so maybe we’d drive ourselves insane by wishing it was perfect, even though it already is.

    Seeing what is possible because of life’s imperfection is something I haven’t thought about. Empathy, self-growth, and appreciation for good, all possible because of the flaws of life.

  2. says

    As a Christian, I believe that God created our world to be PERFECT but after humans chose disobidience it BECAME imperfect in every possible sense.

    But of course I agree with you that we should accept the life the way it is.

    Perfectionism makes us unhappy – that’s for sure, while a realistic approach heals.

    • Nathan says

      I wouldn’t call being a Christian a ‘realistic approach’ but to each their own, I suppose. Glad we both took away something substantial from this article!

  3. says

    This is such a great post, and so rich and so full of depth.


    The beauty is when I don’t pursue the perfect skin or the perfect figure, I can be free to just enjoy life, and let photoshop help me make my pictures look whichever way I want them to look.

    Thanks for sharing :-)

  4. says

    Hi Joshua,

    I recently started visiting your website and enjoy all the content you share. This essay is brilliant. Perfection is an unrealistic expectation. An unrealistic expectation cannot be achieved. When we can’t achieve something, we become disappointed. Then unhappy with ourselves. And on and on into the abyss of the downward spiral.

    A friend mentored me through a creativity course over the winter. One of the biggest lessons I took away from it was ‘learn to embrace and display your imperfections.’ Great lesson and your essay reminded me of it.

    Thanks a lot. Stay happily imperfect!

  5. says

    When you write a blog or do anything creative, you have to learn to let things be imperfect. It is hard because you want everything you write to go out into the ether in absolute perfection. That is never going to happen, of course. Eventually you have to let go and publish items that might not adhere to your strict standards of absolute perfection. Life is definitely not perfect, just like blogging or anything creative.

  6. Ashley says

    These is some of the most beautiful and real ideas I have ever read/heard and I appreciate and thank you for that!

    I could agree more and couldn’t have said it better.

  7. Raianne says

    Fret not, idealists and perfection-seeking chaps! Perfection does exist! Perfection is Jesus Christ and the Heaven that awaits every believer! Sure, it may not be evident in this world, but this world is not our home to begin with. We are meant to belong in a satisfying relationship with our Father in a world of perfection.

    This current world we live in may seem a mess, but the Lord made sure that his love and mercy and beauty would create ripples even in a chaotic world, that we may know that He is God, and discover a different world we were meant to live in abundantly

    • Jen says

      Imperfection exists in the DNA of every man which means we are bound to frustrations and disappointments in our life, behavior, relationships… Heaven awaits… In the meantime, we should learn to be patient and forgiving of people, of others, but more importantly, of ourselves as well.

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