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Surprising Science

Self-Improvement vs. Self-Acceptance

When does the American spirit of endless self-improvement come at the expense of self-acceptance? Perfection is the enemy of good and can cause stress and dissatisfaction. 

What’s the Latest Development?


A survey that once placed American women into two broad categories, the ‘never-enoughs’ and the ‘good-enoughs’, found that the latter category, those more content with their lot in life, led happier personal lives and advanced equally in their careers as the ‘never-enoughs’. One author of that study, Becky Gillespie, says society’s conflicting definitions of success can cause major turmoil: “We need the courage to choose which definition of success we want.”

What’s the Big Idea?

Since Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends and Influence People, it seems like America has been on an endless quest to improve itself. It’s a character trait that other nations find amusing, but for America, the promise of success may carry certain risks. A higher tolerance of income inequality is one result of the attitude, since we are given to believing that the world can be ours if we work just a little harder… The Occupy Wall Street movement may represent a change, that we no longer even want to reach the pinnacle of power. 


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