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On "high standards"

"Your bar is too high. You need to lower it; otherwise, you'll continue dealing with disappointments."

I've heard this way too often. There are times when I question if having lower standards will actually help people live happier life (?) I suppose it depends on what makes us feel happy, ultimately.

Happiness has always been a vague term to me. I can easily name my emotions such as joy, satisfaction, upset, disappointment, etc., but in my dictionary, happiness is much more complex than one singular sentiment — it’s a combination of feelings shifted from unfavorable to favorable states of being therefore only earned by overcoming adversity. I know that what makes me happy is not necessarily an easy life but growth.

The older I get, the more I find that my main source of happiness comes from within. Even if I feel disappointed because something doesn’t live up to my expectations, I’m thankful that I can still recognize my disappointment in the process because it pushes me to keep moving forward instead of settling down for less. The path I choose may be more difficult and it may take me longer to arrive at where I want to be, but I know that wherever I end up being will still be farther ahead than where I would have been if I lowered my standards.

Unlike popular opinions, I believe that holding ourselves to a higher standard and complying with perfectionism to the point of exhaustion are two completely distinguished ideologies. The difference is that perfection is finite and unrealistic, while higher standards are infinite and can always be raised depending on our personal appetite.

Holding ourselves to a higher standard doesn’t mean we will suffer more disappointments, either. It means respecting ourselves enough that we work on expanding our values instead of shrinking them simply because we’re afraid of being let down. Disappointments are unavoidable anyway, and knowing what we are disappointed with (ourselves included) allows us to identify what needs improvement, refine our sense of judgment, make better decisions, and ultimately help us reach our highest potential.

If lowering our standards to fit in or to avoid disappointments means leaving our happiness up to others, holding ourselves to a higher standard not only allows us to be in control of where we are heading but also inspires others to grow with us and helps us naturally attract people who can meet us where we are. Conformity may feel like an easy choice for the short term and low pleasures may be fun momentarily, but at the end of the day, we all want to be with people who inspire and bring out the best in ourselves, don’t we?


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