Why the B student is happier – good enough is often better


By David Joel Miller.

How perfect do you need to be?

schoolroom

School classroom
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

The connection between grades and happiness is a lot more tenuous than we used to think. A recent survey concluded that by and large students with a B average were a lot happier than those who got A’s.

Now, this was not a perfect correlation. Some A students were very happy and some B students were miserable but overall, a B just might make you happier than an A.

Why do B’s make you happier than A’s?

This is another example of that old 80/20 rule. Getting to be perfect at something takes a lot of your time. If you focus on doing one thing perfectly you need to devote large amounts of time to that task. The result is this one thing begins to take over your life. You need to ask yourself is this thing worth it?

If to get A’s a student has to give up sports or a club that they truly love, will they be better off with the A and no participation in that sport? This goes to goals.

If you want to get into a prestige school, then those A’s might be a minimum. You may also need to be in advanced placement classes and to have participated in a lot of extracurricular activities. That push to meet these requirements may keep you from many other things you want to do.

So ask yourself how important is that goal of making it into a particular Ivy League school worth? If it is not something you really want, then consider that spending less time on studying and more on other activities may optimize your happiness.

There is a more adult corollary to this. If you spend 20% of your time and do an 80% job you may optimize your happiness. I am not suggesting you will be happier if you do shoddy work. But sometimes that extra effort to be 100% perfect, results in taking too much time on a task, getting nothing else done, and in the end, this perfect job has sabotaged your career or your relationships.

Try to get your life in balance. Spend the time you need to in order to make something “good enough” without putting yourself in the place of being stressed out or having to neglect other things.

Trying to be perfect can be crazy making.

One author reports that to perfect a skill requires 10,000 hours of practice. You can do that for one, maybe two things in your life, but you can’t do that for everything. Some of your life roles need to be relegated to that “good enough” category where you do enough to get 80% of the project and then let the rest of it go to make room for the balance of your life.

What are the things in your life that you need to lighten up on and go for the B grade so you can concentrate on getting an A in the things that really matter to you? Have you spent the time to set goals and prioritize so that your time can be invested in what really matters?

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For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse and Co-occurring disorders see the about the author page. For information about my other writing work beyond this blog check out my Google+ page or the Facebook author’s page, up under David Joel Miller. Posts to the “books, trainings, and classes” category will tell you about those activities. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com. A list of books I have read and can recommend is over at Recommended Books

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6 thoughts on “Why the B student is happier – good enough is often better

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