We all are Imperfect; that is how the World is Designed

by | Sep 1, 2022

Of late, I spend much of my time reading books. Excellent books are available on the Internet, which can be read for free. One can even download them, highlight the portions one likes and even add notes. Being a technical person, I consider this as another great gift of technology.

I recently found a beautiful, small book on the Internet, The Gifts of Imperfection, by the American research professor, Casandra Brené Brown (b. 1965). She talks on a 20-minute lecture platform, TEDx, and is considered as “a new star of social psychology.” The book courageously declares on the cover itself, “Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to be and Embrace Who You Are.” Later in the book, she explains this process as “wholehearted living,” which comes out of practice.

The book calls courage, compassion, and connections as the three gifts of imperfection. Consider these three words as verbs – actions. So, courage is all about taking actions courageously. It could be anything, from something as small as getting up at 6 a.m., to reducing the sugar and salt in your diet, to quitting your addictions, which may not necessarily be smoking, or consuming alcohol, but eating junk food, guzzling soft drinks, watching TV for hours, being hooked to social media, or idle talk, lethargy, procrastination… there are a hundred types and a thousand forms to it. If something must stop, stop it – period.

The biggest courage is to speak out what your heart says. And we all fail here. We are conditioned to “sugarcoat” our criticism, not to convey bad news, and say “yes” even if we want to say “no.” Not only does life get complicated by such behavior, but every time we do this, we let ourselves down. In our attempt to be nice to people around us, we grow up becoming a stranger to our own selves and live bogus lives. 

Compassion is a very misunderstood word. Contrary to what is generally believed, it is not about being kind and caring towards others. It is about being kind and caring to your own self. It is about experiencing your feelings, especially addressing your fears, and not running away from them. The practice of compassion involves moving towards what scares us, engaging it, and overcoming it. 

The biggest barrier to compassion is the failure to see boundaries – my own and those of others – and instead of accepting accountability, shifting the blame. Insincere students blame teachers, lazy and incompetent employees blame their supervisors and working conditions, businesspeople blame markets, and the public in general blames the leaders. Even grown-up people do not hesitate in blaming their now-old parents for their failures in life. 

Compassion is all about acceptance. We need to accept ourselves and accept others as we and they are and find a solution, rather than wasting time and energy in blame games. Setting boundaries and making people accountable is more work than just shaming and blaming. Parents do that quite regularly while raising their children. Students who are a little slow in learning or not sharp enough, are berated at home and struggle in school. Without good marks in senior school, admission in good colleges is ruled out. 

Connection is fundamental. Human beings are, by nature, social animals. We are designed to work together and extend our cooperation in order to progress. Our relationships shape our biology, as well as our experiences. Patients surrounded by well-meaning and caring family and friends recover faster. Neglected and abandoned people are plunged into addictions and a plethora of chronic ailments. 

The secret is that our brain operates through connections. Love is as fundamental an emotion to the brain as oxygen is to its cells. It simply does not function in the absence of love. The root cause of our failure in life is the lack or absence of love. We try to find it where it is not present and never approach where it is waiting to be tapped. So, the problem is not that the people around you are unloving; the problem is that you are stuck up thinking about them. Move on and move away; you will find love in abundance.

Social media is an imposter for connections. There can be nothing more insensitive than using emojis for expressing one’s feelings. Not only is the person using an emoji, trivializing the emotion, but also the person to whom it is being sent. Over time, relationships turn into stereotypes, like emojis. 

Life is a school. The purpose of living is not finding the path of least resistance, but gaining experience. Human life is the only form in the universe endowed with consciousness and choice. Whatever you do using these gifts would be good and anything done by ignoring them will be fraught with danger. The saying that there is no gain without pain is, indeed, true. So, engage with people, tell them your stories, and hear theirs, and you will find a new meaning emerging out of the apparent nothingness.

But what if I am cheated? The answer is you will learn about people in the process. Each of us is given an immortal essence inside, like an embedded chip of infinite intelligence. There is nothing that is incomprehensible or hidden from this. Instead of being afraid of being cheated by others, stop cheating your own self, with immediate effect. Everyone in this world is born with imperfections. Your faults are, indeed, the road signs on your way to succeed in life.  

Take imperfections as a site to start. Whatever you find as your biggest fault, start working there and you will experience soon that everyone around you is helping you in the process – the entire universe will conspire to help you repair your fault. But instead, if you blame others for your fault, get angry and enter fights, the faults will not go away, but fester like wounds and worsen. 

I close with a quote from the book, The Gifts of Imperfection, “Understanding the difference between healthy striving and perfectionism is critical to laying down the shield and picking up your life. Research shows that perfectionism hampers success. In fact, it is often the path to depression, anxiety, addiction, and life paralysis.” 

So, accept and embrace your imperfections, your shortcomings, your faults and start working on them – bit by bit, silently, without making a fuss or show, and you will soon find the onset of healing. Even if you talk to a stranger, you will find a friend there… That is how this world is designed. 

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22 Comments

  1. Enjoyed the blog. Nothing is perfect in this world. Perfection is a myth, a hope not a reality. Perfection is a benchmark that can never be reached. Perfection is like infinity. It doesn’t exist. Conversely, life is Imperfect. You’re not perfect, so am I. Our imperfections make us unique and life beautiful. People fall for the imperfections of someone. Imperfection is so real.

    The good and bad were always there and they will always be there. Your positive attitude would make you deal with difficult things sportingly. It helps you focus on good things and so you feel that life is just perfect. When you focus on the bad or negative side of anything and everything then you feel that Life is Imperfect.

    There is always a choice in Life- To be an Optimist or Pessimist. Your advice to take our shortcomings as starting points to improve upon is a brilliant one!

  2. Dear sir, a perfect blog on imperfections. The heading of the blog says it all. We are designed to be imperfect. This imperfection in each one of us makes this world a beautiful place to live. Some people work to set right their imperfections and some people make efforts to point them out. This is in spite of the fact that they are also not perfect. Sir you rightly brought out the perfectionism hampers success and you get isolated. I am reminded of BASIR BADR couplet. परखना मत, परखने में कोई अपना नहीं रहता. We have to accept as they are and adjust ourselves to see that the end goal is achieved.

    One of the most important learning for me that ” accept yourself as you are.” This will give a lot of piece of mind and you need not have to pretend. But effort must be on improve yourself. Simple blog with a far reaching message sir!

  3. “A life imperfect is perfect” sounds like a paradox. But after reading this blog I realize that the expression “perfectly imperfect” means that perfection is unattainable. If perfection is unattainable, then everyone has flaws in their being. These flaws are physical and psychological, and they are different in everyone. What’s the fun of a good gossip session when there is nobody worth gossiping about? What’s the thrill of being an adolescent nonconformist when parents smilingly accept all ideocracies? Your perfect is bound to be another’s imperfect. Why, even your own definition of perfect changes from time to time, from year to year! Thank you Tauji for cheering young imperfects like me up.

  4. Sir, Reading in continuity with your earlier ” Get in touch with your demon” …reveals much more. “We are imperfect…” flows from “Get in touch with your demon”.

    Thanks for making the reader comfortable with vulnerability. Your writings open up new dimensions of self-exploration. The message– to work silently on the faults, easily gets internalised.

  5. A thought provoking exposition on design of the world, Prof Tiwariji !

    Your articulation on using the gifts of imperfection for experiencing life is magnificient !!

  6. Sir, what a wonderful blog this is. I am reminded of a Bible verse (James 3:2):

    We all stumble in many ways. Anyone who is never at fault in what they say is perfect, able to keep their whole body in check.

    All faults are part of life except the unpardonable fault of hypocrisy – saying something and doing something else. Thank you Sir.

  7. Sir, The idea of imperfection is original to India. Since beginning of the history, Indians have focussed on their faults and lived humble lives. This blog reminds me immortal lines of Hindi poet Soor Das.

    मो सम कौन कुटिल खल कामी।
    जेहिं तनु दियौ ताहिं बिसरायौ, ऐसौ नोनहरामी॥

    Who equals me in wickedness, villainy and lust? The God, who created me, I have forgotten, how disloyal I am?

  8. A valuable piece of writing that needs to be read often!

    Thank you, Sir, your writing itself holds the “three gifts” of courage, compassion and connection, and that’s how it is able to impact the reader powerfully. It exemplifies how authentic and `wholehearted’ — rather than ‘perfect’ — matters, and can make a difference.

    I particularly liked the part about “Engage with people, tell them your stories, and hear theirs, and you will find a new meaning emerging out of the apparent nothingness.” One, this is a relief of sorts, as it moves away from the widespread practise of Positive Psychology, which looks down upon sharing or even acknowledging serious and negative experiences and emotions.

    Two, by extension, not just a “new meaning from the apparent nothingness”, but also a new person could emerge out of the apparent or imagined idea-of-the-person. In both denying the negative or being over-mindful of our imperfections, we move away from reality and become strangers to ourselves, as you say. On the other hand, in authentic interactions, chiseling and rounding off of rough edges occurs, which, in fact, would lead us finally to becoming more perfect versions of 0urselves!

  9. Sir, thank you for writing this most useful blog on imperfections. There is so much anxiety in the air. In childhood, many of us learn that we need to be perfect—that we must look a particular way, act a particular way, and meet other people’s expectations even at the expense of our own wellbeing. Of course, these impossibly high standards are unrealistic. No one can be perfect: We irritate our spouses. We overdraw our bank accounts. We disappoint our parents and our bosses. We yell at our kids. We don’t have time to shop and cook, so we order pizza for a second time this week. We drink too much. We numb out in front of our televisions, video games, and phones.

    As you very forcefully asserted in the blog, we all are imperfect. When we scroll through social media, other people’s lives look perfect. They’ve got cute kids, expensive vacations, lots of friends, a successful career, a kind/funny/ambitious spouse, designer clothes, and a perfect body. It certainly looks good on the outside! But even if all these outward signs of a perfect life are true, they don’t tell the whole story. Logically, we all know that no one’s perfect, but just knowing that isn’t enough to make us let go of our desire to be perfect. We either don’t see that others struggle, or we don’t hold them to the same impossibly high standards. All this stress is unnecessary if we embrace our imperfections and live at peace with ourselves.

  10. Sir enjoyed reading the blog about imperfect lives. I work in HR and interact with many employees, taking feedback about their happiness. To have understanding and encouraging parents, a romantic and caring spouse, disciplined, dutiful kids and supportive and trustworthy friends. Not to talk of an appreciative boss generous with promotions and increments and of course admiring and helpful colleagues. The list is very long and keeps changing.

    What I have realized is good is no good if there is no bad to compare it with. What’s the fun of a good old gossip session when there is nobody worth gossiping about? What’s the thrill of being an adolescent maverick when parents smilingly accept all? What good is a romantic moment that you haven’t agonised over and had sleepless nights over? What good a promotion or increment that you haven’t had to fight for! Ideal sounds good so long as it is beyond reach.

    Perfect sounds perfect from the prism of imperfect. And yet the moment you have it within reach, there could be nothing more boring than perfect! And anyway, what is perfect? Your perfect is bound to be another’s imperfection. Why, even your own definition of perfect changes from time to time, from year to year! My favourite line from this blog is, “The root cause of our failure in life is the lack or absence of love. We try to find it where it is not present and never approach where it is waiting to be tapped.” Thank you for sharing these precious insights. I am deeply obliged…

  11. Love thyself and imbibe the art of improving self ….. Is what I understand out of “We all are imperfect; that’s how the world is designed.”

    Goes without saying – nobody is perfect. None is cut to the scale, polished and flawless. None is precise and none is electronically/digitally Mr. 100 percent with just no minuscule of improvement possible. It’s not that the clock stops ticking for desires and wishes at a particular stage. Had it been so the world would have stopped, satisfaction would be the ‘in thing’. Humans would have turned to nothing short of immortals, satisfied and contended. Factually… we are far and much farther from it.

    “Let Go of who you think you’re supposed to be and embrace who you are” is the perfect caption which sums it all…let’s your mind wander in the bewilderment, channelizes to commence to think and explore the ‘always thought but never acted’ stuff. The unopened closed file lying at some corner of your mind, entangled in billions of nerves and wires crisscrossing your head constituting the brain. This file needs to be dusted, unwrapped and meticulously gone through enabling one to walk the path to understand who you are… your positive, your achievements, your success, circumventing the road paved with desires and cravings.

    The three C’s …. Courage, Compassion and Connections are deftly explained.
    Let it be known that the inner peace starts the moment you close the window and do not allow the wind to sweep in to control your emotions. Build up a well oiled network and cultivate that perfect stick which dares you not to even look at the worldly temptations and desires. Perfection is never possible. Improvement – yes.

    Contentment and satisfaction needs to be tutored and locked. The key to this is embracing who you are and not who you think you are supposed to be. Let the world know that you are who you say you are.

  12. Arun ji, Very educative blog. Congratulations. The 3 Cs: Courage, Compassion and Connection have helped me succeed as CEO EMRI 108. On the Job schooling, as you said Life as a school is great opportunity to develop ourselves. Telling our story and hearing their story is great tool to develop Leadership.

  13. Dear Prof Tiwari, This a great reminder – working on our imperfections leads to success. Thank you for sharing this.

    One time, when still serving in the military, my guest, a German General told me the reason why Germans are great at quality products. He said Germans’ attitude to “failure” or “setbacks” that occur during quality assurance or product testing are interpreted as “steps towards success and perfection”.

  14. Dear Sir,
    Each paragraph of this blog is a key to success in life. Specially the para on biggest fault, which I am able to connect one of the Bollywood movies dialogue where the actor says ” कहते है अगर किसी चीज को दिल से चाहो तो पूरी कायनात उसे तुमसे मिलाने की कोशिश में लग जाती है. (Movie: Om Shanti Om), when the actor wanted to become a big superstar in the movie, and with his hard work he becomes a big actor at the end of the movie. I have seen this working in real life as well.

    Since beginning in my career I wanted to work in computer science field but due to pressure from my parents I become a doctor, however, the destiny directed me towards the IT sector as I kept working towards my dream to be an IT professional. It took me another 10 years however, I achieved a part of my dream.

    As per my learnings in life, we should keep working on our shortfalls constantly, nature gives back the result at the best time. We should just keep working, Karma plays its role for sure, Warm Regards,

  15. Thanks Prof Tiwari ji for sharing such an important piece, which I feel, is the route to innovation and creation. Even evolution process by the nature signifies minimization of imperfection in the next generation! Great reading indeed!

  16. Sir, I feel so peaceful after reading this blog. Many years ago, I read a poem on Internet by Chandler Higgs. May I add the last stanza from that poem here as my little “second” to your views:

    To say our world is perfect is far from true
    Perfection and imperfection should never be compared
    Pain is in our world, but there is also happiness
    Loss, but also gain
    Every pain we feel is matched with joy for something else
    For imperfection means to have emotion
    For imperfection means to live.

    Thank you once again for cheering my spirit up.

  17. Just loved this blog. I totally support the fact that imperfections actually make us human. Even if we try to imagine someone being perfectly put-together and efficient in every way, in no time he may begin to annoy us. In the quest of perfection, one forgets his true self and starts running behind the unrealistic standards set by the society.
    Confession – been there done that.

  18. Imperfection…Eastern way of thinking has it inbuilt. We find faults even in divine.

  19. Very relevant article Prof Tiwari, the best summary is epitomized in ‘Everyone in this world is born with imperfections. Your faults are, indeed, the road signs on your way to succeed in life. ‘

  20. Simply beautiful. Live in the present and be what you are…no pretence…accept yourself and mingle with persons and enrich each other’s life.
    Entertaining and yet with deep meaning.
    Seasons greeting to all!

  21. Your concluding para says it all. Remember, I alone know my self the best, not my friend, sons or parents.

  22. Indeed very well articulated. Perfectionists follow an SOP while imperfectionists are the ones who go on the path less trodden. Rightly said, perfectionists often undergo depression while imperctionists enjoy life. One should not wait for the perfect moment to take the plunge otherwise life becomes monotonous.

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