Perfection Does Not Equal Happiness
Last night I was contemplating potential scenarios for our Hawaii trip, trying to pre-emptively make sure everything runs as smoothly as possible.
My dad wants to visit Pearl Harbour, Jared wants to surf, Kate wants to see whales, Megan wants to rent a scooter (God knows why)…I mentally created a schedule of activities, allocating cars and calculating distance between points.
I tried to think of what we could cook in our shared kitchen that would accommodate all taste buds and dietary requirements. I googled nearby restaurants to find one that would best suit the group.
Then it hit me.
You are not responsible for everyone’s happiness.
I’m telling you, it was a revelation.
No one asked or expected me to become crazy planning woman. I just did it, thinking I could circumvent the inevitable conflicts that are bound to arise when you vacation with nine people.
That’s the thing about inevitable conflicts, though: they’re inevitable.
Our Hawaiian vacation might have a few bumps. People might get frustrated.
But it’s HAWAII! We’re hardly going to walk away going, “Well, that was a bust.”
This compulsion to achieve happiness by removing spontaneity is nothing new to my traveling lifestyle.
It’s like a sickness.
Every time Jared and I travel, I become obsessed with making the perfect choices.
Should I go with Lonely Planet’s ‘top pick’ for accommodation or TripAdvisor’s? The restaurant with a 78% rating or the one with 79% that’s a little more expensive? 79 is better, right? But what if the ratings aren’t accurate and I pick the one that isn’t as good AAAAAGGGHHH.
What if, what if, what if.
It’s such a waste of energy.
He doesn’t care where we eat, as long as we don’t get food poisoning.
That’s probably why he says, “I don’t mind. You pick,” because where we eat/sleep/play seems to mean so much more to me.
I get overwhelmed by the need to pick a place where we’ll both be paralyzed with happiness, eating the most delicious food or sleeping in the most incredible room.
What I should do is ask a few basic questions:
- Is it in our budget?
- Does it sound good to me?
- Does it have reasonable reviews?
- Can we walk there?
If I can answer ‘yes’ to all four questions, then that’s it. The decision should be made.
But that’s not what I do.
I change my mind 18 times as we’re walking out the door and after that, neither of us are feeling the happiness that I’m so desperately aiming for.
“Comparison is the thief of joy.”
Whoa again. Revelation number two, in under 24 hours. I’m on a roll.
It is, of course.
Some comparison is necessary to make an educated decision, but it’s possible to go too far. The problem arises when you’re presented with, for example, eight rooftop restaurants, all of which serve, let’s say, hamburgers for $7.
But which one has the best hamburgers?
Which one has the comfiest chairs?
Which one has the most stunning views?
These unimportant factors make the decision pure agony for me. All of the joy gets sucked right out of the situation, because I have put myself in a position where I will never be satisfied.
Straight away, Jared sees what I am blind to: “They’re all the same. Let’s just pick one.”
“I know,” I say. “Give me one minute. I just need to check something.”
In this ‘one minute,’ I scan the guidebook, comparing Lonely Planet‘s write-ups with online reviews.
As we walk to the restaurant, I worry that I’ve made the wrong choice.
Even as I’m eating delicious food, I wonder which place we should try for our next meal. And don’t even get me started on what I should order.
I know. I’m a little bit insane.
But at least I’m aware of it now, which has to be a step in the right direction.
So in Hawaii, I’m going to be different.
I’ll have a good time without worrying about creating a good time for everyone.
If we go out to dinner, we’ll do it the old-fashioned way, without the opinions of strangers on the internet.
Because trying to plan for perfection does not lead to happiness.
And I have a feeling that this vacation is going to be pretty amazing.