Perfection impossible in our imperfect world

We are bombarded with advertisements every moment of every day but just how many do we see and how many do we react to? Research company SJ Insights has estimated that between television and social media the average person sees an average of 360 advertising messages a day.

If you watch, on average, TV for several hours a day and log onto social media nine hours (yes, these are actual numbers), that’s a total of 131,400 messages you are exposed to a year! There is always the remote, of course, and the delete button, but how often do you turn off the TV during commercial breaks or delete the ads that intrude into internet stories?

SJ Insights notes that “Advertising doesn’t just offer the right product to the right consumer at the right time. It gets them emotionally motivated to investigate and ultimately buy the advertised product or service.”

Just what are these ads promoting, apart from making money for the TV companies? They are promoting a better, cleaner, healthier, happier, wealthier, spot-free, wrinkle-free and nicer-smelling you. In short, a more perfect you. But is this a valid expectation?

Nobody is perfect and we cannot expect perfection from anyone, especially ourselves. Expecting perfection can lead to disappointment and disillusionment.

But I have noted that many Americans want to appear faultless: perfect teeth, perfect body, perfect children and marriage, perfect home, job and lifestyle. The media reinforces and compounds these expectations. Yet very few people can ever live up to these standards.

In example, the perfect families portrayed in the media are often dysfunctional, feuding and unhappy. Yet, we base our expectations on what we see and hear rather than who we really are.

Most people want to appear competent, efficient and intelligent but from childhood on, we amass a considerable amount of trouble, stress and angst as we strive to accomplish others’ ideals of what we should be. We are human and often act in incompetent, inefficient and unintelligent ways. It is normal human behavior.

Life is stressful enough without elevated expectations of who, what, when, how and why we should lead our lives. When we can let go of outside expectations, we can be free to live our lives in the best way we can — to our own potential, effort and imagination.

True maturity requires the individual to let go of external expectations and to live in a way that best portrays who they are. I believe everyone is born with an innate sense of rightness and altruism that becomes evident as we mature into adulthood. Incorporating external expectations confounds and disturbs this natural process leading to mental, physical and emotional dysfunction.

Here in America, we are expected to live perfect lives in an imperfect world. Consequently, we develop habits, lifestyles and behavior patterns that are detrimental to health, wealth and happiness. We are constantly striving for perfection. We are always looking for more, when what we really need is less.

Angela Smith is a Ph.D. life coach, author and educator who has been resident in Nevada since 1992. She can be reached at

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