High anxiety is rampant in today’s society. Many of us have high, unrealistic expectations of ourselves and those around us. If we try hard enough, we’re told, we can succeed at whatever we set our sights on. But is success the value to be prized above all other values? Does success guarantee personal fulfillment? The number of suicides among people regarded as “successful” would seem to indicate otherwise. When we demand perfect performance from ourselves and others, we take on an immense burden. We may end up aggressively competing with ourselves and those around us. We may put perfect achievement ahead of the human relationships which enrich life. Striving for excellence is a good thing, as long as we keep our striving in perspective. Will this excellence contribute to the common good? Or will my striving for perfection contribute to an unhealthy anxiety level in me and those around me?
By Delores Dufner, OSB