"We must not let the perfect be the enemy of the good"
I am indebted to Jan Schakowsky, Democrat member of the US House of Representatives for inspiring this post. (The context was the passing of a watered-down version of a bill to limit the NSA's phone data gathering powers.) The sentiment is attributed to Voltaire from his poem La Bégueule which begins:
Dans ses écrits, un sage Italien
Dit que le mieux est l'ennemi du bien.
(In his writings a wise Italian said that the best is the enemy of the good.)
It reminds me of the belief of the British psychoanalyst Winnicott that we don't need perfect parents, we only need them to be good enough; and that constant tension between purity and compromise, radical and reformed.
It feels like a trap we slide into rather easily...
in big ways - "I couldn't live with myself if I didn't come out on top"
and in small ways - "I'd better keep quiet in case I get it wrong"
So next time my day-dreaming takes over my best efforts to stay focused thinking about how I deal with not getting all the papers read for a meeting, I'll keep in mind that I can't (mustn't?) do anything perfectly. (I think Islamic art has something to say about that.) I could just be satisfied... for once.
Here's the mindfulness tie-up: https://stillnessinmind.com/ex1_4.html