A very wise man once said: “the Good is the greatest enemy of the Best.”
I took his advice to heart, and thought about how I had filled my life and schedule up with things… GOOD things. I said yes to oh-so-many opportunities to do good here, to be a good friend there, to invest in a good cause now, and my life was crammed with Good. So much good, in fact, that I had no space for the Best things. I began the slow process of learning that just because something was good didn’t mean I had to do it. I could say no to a good opportunity, even a great one, if it meant I was protecting the space for the Best.
Learning that the Good is the greatest enemy of the Best has been a help and comfort. It has given clarity where I was confused, courage to say no when guilt and wanting-to-be-liked pressured me to say yes.
Recently, though, I’ve been thinking that perhaps I’ve over-stretched that little phrase. Because sometimes, it’s okay to just do the good. Sometimes, the good really is “good enough”. It doesn’t have to be the best.
When we’re deciding what to do on a Saturday, we don’t have to scour every possible option, consider every possible weather forecast, weigh every possible outcome. Spending an hour online to find the “best” thing to do is an hour we didn’t spend doing a good thing – like snuggling on the couch with a book. Or talking a walk down to the park with our squirming little ones. Or playing twister.
My Genius-With-Numbers husband has a name for this: optimization functions. It is his job to calculate all the possible permutations of a problem, and work out which is THE best, the MOST efficient, the MOST productive of the array of solutions. For engineers, it works well. For us at home, I’m beginning to find it a little crippling. It is just about impossible for me to find the time or the energy to find the BEST gift, the BEST dump-truck shaped birthday cake, the BEST recipe for Spinach. I cannot optimize every part of my children’s existence. When it comes to day to day decisions, the Best has become the enemy of the Good.
In our over-photographed and Pinteresty age, we are terrorized by the Best. What if there was something better, and we missed it? What if there was a cheaper deal? A more highly rated hotel? A dance class with a better student-to-teacher ratio? What if??
But what if, in my desire to find the best, I missed out on a world of good? What if my lop-sided cake, served with my full attention and a dose of laughter, is good enough?
I’m rethinking the Good and the Best. I’ve learned that I sometimes need to say no to good things to leave room for the best. But now I’m learning that I need to say no to my need for things to be the “best”, so that I can love that which is good.
And that, dear friends, is good enough. In fact, I’m thinking this might be the best decision I’ve made for a while.
photo credit: coachdayne.com