The Pursuit of Perfection


INSTRUCTOR: Jennifer Houston


SCHEDULE: Tuesday, 2:00PM – 4:30PM

Course Description

It is noon in Dwarahat, India. At the Pandukholi Ashram, in the depth of the Himalayan mountains, a devout Hindu begins his afternoon session of Bhakti yoga – a devotion that he hopes will lead him closer to Moksha, or spiritual enlightenment. As the yoga mat rolls across the dusty floors of the Ashram in the Sky, it is 1am in the City That Never Sleeps. A New York attorney, hoping to become the youngest partner at her firm, opens a case file and prepares herself for another restless night on the grind for success. These two individuals, despite the many things that make them so different, are united by how their lives and actions are dedicated to the pursuit of their personal perfection.

The concept of perfection transcends space and time, spans geopolitical and cultural borders, and is persistent despite the unique definitions of what the results of this goal may be. We see perfectionism in religion, across societies and cultures, in business, and in nearly every other facet of our everyday lives. If we look closely enough at our own surroundings, the benchmarks that have been prescribed for us by our parents, priests, bosses, and even our favorite social media influencers are embedded into who we are and how we behave. As a society, we are pushed to not only meet, but exceed ideals of perfection. From the 80-hour work week to “Keeping up with the Kardashians”, we are encouraged to continue to set higher goals for ourselves that become increasingly unattainable. In the process, the physical, emotional, and psychological impact that comes with the stress of this pursuit can have detrimental impacts on humanity. In some instances, the pursuit of perfection can even kill.

Throughout this course we will look at perfectionism through the lens of religious practices, sociocultural norms, and business expectations at both the organizational and employee level. We will discuss and discover our own definitions of perfection as we move through the different modules and topics designed to aid in the understanding of how perfectionism is experienced on a global level. We will also examine the impact that the pursuit of perfection can have on the physiological, psychological, and interpersonal wellbeing of individuals.