We all tend to harbour outlandish and unreasonable expectations for just how good our life should be. In a phenomenon not resulting from but by no means helped by social media, our expectations for how life should be (and our misery at how it has so far turned out) turns on disregarding so much we already have that makes life worth living.
Your partner may not be quite the bold, beautiful, sexy and ambitious person you imagined you would be with. They may be beautiful but their skin is starting to wrinkle; they may still be sexy, but their skin is starting to fold; they may still hold ambitions, but they have tempered them with the experience of living. They might not fit the idealised version of a partner you had in your head but they are interested in understanding you, are always compassionate and empathetic, and care for you more than anything in the world. They love you, and you love them. They might not fit a romanticised ideal or be perfect in every way, but they are certainly…good enough.
You had fantasies of what you would be doping by the time you were 20, 30, or 40. You would own a house, have kids, have written a book (or two), maybe even have managed to live off the grid in a commune or be working the job of your dreams, perhaps being a politician or CEO. Instead, you find yourself renting still. You don’t have a magnanimously landscaped backyard, but you do have a modest veggie patch that provides a humble yield of nutritious food. You aren’t earning a hundred thousand dollars a year, but your job is satisfying, the people are nice, and it does pay the bills. You have not found the romantic love of your life, but you have found love in a group of friends who you know you can always rely on. Your life may not be what you had fantasised it to be when you were younger but in many important respects it is…good enough.
You thought you would be an exceptionally healthy human. But, you suffered a debilitating injury that is still with you. It has been for a while and you might not like to admit it, but it might always be. You could look at all the things you can no longer do: go for runs, climb trees, play soccer; but today the pain in your hip wasn’t too bad, you went most of the day without a sharp pain causing you to lie down, and you did some yoga which definitely helped. The pain was there, but it was tolerable. Today was…good enough.
The philosophy of Kintsugi mirrors the philosophy of ‘good enough’.Rather than shying away from it, Kintsugi is a celebration of what is broken, flawed and damaged in all of us. We can never be perfect. But rather than a cause for alarm, deformities can exhibit their own particular kind of beauty. What Kintsugi has to impart to the philosophy of ‘good enough’ is that nothing is perfect, but beauty can be found in repairing what was broken, overcoming what seemed insurmountable, and appreciating things for what they are.
It isn’t about adopting a strictly pessimistic philosophy or saying ‘you can never do better so just settle for what you have’. Rather, it is about stopping comparing your life with your fantasies. It is about seeing your life for what it is, and not in comparison to the lofty expectations you had decades earlier (and still do).
The philosophy of ‘good enough’ is about recalibrating our expectations about what life should be like towards what it is. This shouldn’t stop us from wanting more or trying to do better. But, it puts us on a solid foundation on which to tackle the future (and the day). At its heart, the philosophy of ‘good enough’ is an implicit reminder the life is not perfect and never will be (no matter how much we fantasise otherwise), but in accepting this, we can appreciate the small victories that life offers us.
Our life will never be perfect and any attempt to make it so is doomed from the start. But life can be good, and a sure way to guarantee it is, is by looking at your life as it really is and trying to improve it from there. See things as they are, not as you would like them to be.