In a captivating op-ed, Columbia law professor Tim Wu explores how the pursuit of perfection has infiltrated and corrupted the realm of leisure.
If you’re a jogger, it is no longer enough to cruise around the block; you’re training for the next marathon. If you’re a painter, you are no longer passing a pleasant afternoon, just you, your watercolors and your water lilies; you are trying to land a gallery show or at least garner a respectable social media following.
Lost here is the gentle pursuit of a modest competence, the doing of something just because you enjoy it, not because you are good at it … alien values like “the pursuit of excellence” have crept into and corrupted what was once the realm of leisure, leaving little room for the true amateur.
The demands of modern life and the pressure to be constantly productive have turned hobbies into serious endeavors. The pursuit of excellence, Wu argues, is at odds with true freedom and can lead to feelings of self-judgment and inadequacy. “Demanding excellence in all that we do steals from us one of life’s greatest rewards—the simple pleasure of doing something you merely, but truly, enjoy.”
Idea for Impact: Abandon the desire to excel and fully embrace the pure delight that hobbies bring. Let them be the sanctuary where the soul can sustain itself.