Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Book Review: Be Happy Without Being Perfect by Alice D. Domar

Title:  Be Happy Without Being Perfect: How To Break Free From The Perfection Deception
Author: Alice D. Domar, PhD, with Alice Lesch Kelly
Publisher: Crown
Publication Date: March 4, 2008
Source: borrowed from the good ol' public library

Plot Summary from Goodreads:

Do you have trouble going to bed at night when there’s a mess in the kitchen? Do you think you would be happier if only you could lose weight, be a better parent, work smarter, reduce stress, exercise more, and make better decisions?

You’re not perfect. But guess what? You don’t have to be. 

All of us struggle with high expectations from time to time. But for many women, the worries can become debilitating–and often, we don’t even know we’re letting unrealistic expectations color our thinking. The good news is, we have the power to break free from the perfectionist trap–and internationally renowned health psychologist, Dr. Alice Domar can show you how.

Be Happy Without Being Perfect  offers a way out of the self-imposed handcuffs that this thinking brings, providing concrete solutions, practical advice, and action plans that teach you how to:
• Assess your tendency toward perfectionism in all areas of your life
• Set realistic goals
• Alleviate the guilt and shame that perfectionism can trigger
• Manage your anxiety with clinically proven self-care strategies 
• Get rid of the unrealistic and damaging expectations that are hurting you–for good!

Filled with the personal insights of more than fifty women,  Be Happy Without Being Perfect  is your key to a happier, calmer, and more enjoyable life.

My Review:

Yesterday, in my monthly review, I alluded to an unfortunate personal event that occurred last month.  My recovery from it was made all the more difficult by my tendency for perfectionistic thinking--something that I've dealt with for many years now!  And when I first saw this book title a few years back, I remember thinking, "OMG, this book was written for ME AND ME ALONE."  It's been on my TBR list for a few years, so even though I am rather behind on my ARCs, I decided to put them aside for a little while and read this book instead--the timing seemed to be ideal, and I needed a book that would help me mentally nurture myself for a while.

If you think perfectionist thoughts are a source of stress for you, I HIGHLY recommend this book.  This doesn't mean that you have to be a perfectionist in all areas of your life--the book is broken into parts, so you can decide if you need to work more on your work life, your home life, your parenting skills, etc.  (I should also note that the book is geared towards women...sorry guys, you might need to turn elsewhere if you're looking for help in this area.)

The book begins with a quiz that helps you identify the parts of your life where perfectionist thinking plagues you the most.  This was helpful for me, because I often use the blanket statement "I am a perfectionist"--but the quiz helped me realize that that is not true in all aspects of my life.  That alone is a stress reliever!  And I'm sure most other readers will feel similarly.

From there, the authors present a set of mental strategies that you can use to combat that type of thinking.  I am a personal fan of the "stop, breathe, reflect, and choose" strategy that they highlighted throughout the book.  They then devote one chapter more specifically to the different areas of your life: health/fitness, housekeeping, work/office life, relationships/marriage, parenting, and general decision-making.  It's likely that not every chapter will be relevant for you: for example, I don't use a lot of perfectionistic thinking at my job, or in terms of my health/fitness, so I didn't devote as much time to those chapters.  But in housekeeping, relationships, and parenting?  I soaked those chapters up fo' sho'.

Did this book cure my perfectionism?  Nope...I still have lots more to work on in this crazy brain-o-mine.  But, the book did help me break my thought patterns down into smaller chunks, allowing me to consider why I put so much stress on certain areas of my life.  And by thinking more critically like that, I am now more conscious of those thoughts and can use the strategies in the book to help me combat them.  This is a lifelong journey for a lot of perfectionists, but I think reading this book is a helpful first step.

Do you struggle with perfectionistic thinking?  And if not, have you read any other self-help books in other areas that were beneficial for you?


  1. Oh.. this is going to have to be an MUST READ NOW for me. Sorry your February was crappy... wish we could have chatted more the other day. ::hugs::-J

  2. I wish we could have too! Next time :)

  3. I think this would be helpful for me, too. I'm working my way through Taming Your Gremlin, which has similar advice -- simply notice, choose and play with options, be in process. My life is much calmer.

    Joy's Book Blog

    1. I will have to check that one out. This one has really helped make a difference in my patterns of thinking. I still have stressful periods, but I feel like I have more tools available to help me pull out of them faster.

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