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If you're stuck cleaning up, put on some great music. "It's far more fun to clean the toilet if you're listening to Mick Jagger!" says psychologist Alice Domar
Be Happy, Not Perfect
If you relax your standards just a bit, you may come close to actually meeting them.
No one's perfect — or so the saying goes — but that doesn't stop most of us from trying to be. And according to one psychologist, that's precisely where we go awry. "Everything is never perfect, and if you expect it to be, true happiness and contentment will always be out of reach," says Alice D. Domar, Ph.D., coauthor of the new book Be Happy Without Being Perfect. "You can be happier," she explains, by "reframing your expectations," and embracing your flaws and failings as readily as you do your strengths and triumphs. Here, how to quash perfectionist tendencies where they hit hardest.
At Home: Make Peace with the Dust Bunnies
Perfectionism at home is a "vicious circle," Domar says. "No matter how hard you work, the to-do list never ends." To pare down that list, start by separating the "want-to" tasks from the "have-to" tasks. Cleaning the bathroom? Have-to. Painting your bedroom? Want-to. Then arrange the want-to's in order of importance, and tackle them accordingly. Give yourself permission to relax at home (at the end of a stressful day, a hot bath may do more for your psyche than a dish-free sink), and if you're feeling unworthy, write yourself a "doctor's note" — "I give myself permission to ignore my messy closet this week" — and hang it up as a reminder.
If unexpected guests pop in, and your house isn't spotless? Remember, says Domar, that they aren't eyeing your recycling bin. "People don't notice as much as we think, and if they do, they don't care."
Next page: Think Like Your Boss