I remember one day, Dr. Ibrahim came into the computer room at the seminary and asked us one of his “Ibrahimisms.” It was a goofy name he gave these short pieces of wisdom that he’d drop on us every few hours. He asks one of my fellow seminarians and me, “what is the enemy of good?” And we instantly respond as if it was the dumbest question in the world, “bad” and “evil.” But of course, he had to make it difficult because we’d come to a deeper appreciation for the answer in making us think about it. My beloved, the enemy of good, is better.
You might be scratching your head, but it’s true. We constantly live in a world where we can always get the “better” phone, the “better” car, the “better” job, the “better” house. And now, unfortunately, with social media, the “better” partner in life. I don’t think we realize that this is a terrible way to live. I’m not saying that a person should be indifferent, ambivalent, or not set goals in life. Goals are reasonable and needed.
What I’m talking about, though, is a disease, or pandemic if you will, of continually looking for what’s better. But to the point where we are not content and satisfied with what is in front of us. It is the continuously looking for what is better that makes us unaware of the good we have in front of us. Take, for example, relationships. I talked to a close friend and shared his opinion of how social media has made it hard to feel satisfied in finding a person to spend the rest of your life with. With social media, we’ve increased the possibility of potential partners, and we’ve increased the number of choices we have exponentially. The issue is not supermodels out there on Instagram; it is the ordinary people on feeds. It’s the person you have access to through social media that could very much become an option.
There’s a cool short 20 minute TED Talk called the Paradox of Choice (link below.) The speaker talks about how we have this idea that if we have more choices, we’ll make a better choice, ultimately leading to creating a better life. But he highlights how this ridiculous amount of options has done the opposite. The speaker states the two negative results; the first, the paralysis to choose. Think about it. The incredible number of choices increases the amount of “what ifs” in our minds. Increasing the number of options makes us feel like we have to make the right decision because we’ll be miserable if we don’t.
The 2nd negative result is that even if we manage to choose, we end up less satisfied with the outcome of the choice than we would be if we had fewer options to choose from. This happens because we expect the person we’re with to be perfect and meet all our unrealistic expectations. And when the person we’re with doesn’t meet our unrealistic expectations, we imagine what “could’ve been.” with someone else. This ultimately leads us to regret our decision and takes away from our decision’s contentment.
So what’s the solution? First, this doesn’t mean that we “settle.” But it means that when we’re in something good, or someone that we’re happy with, we shouldn’t be looking for what “could be.” In a world that demands perfection, look at the gift of imperfection. We are all never going to be the richest or the most handsome (well, I know I am sooo…) or the fastest or skinniest or most likes. I can improve my life and build a good and happy life without having, and having to be, the absolute best of everything.