Ruth Ostrow is OK with OK. Bernard Salt’s Sub­ur­ban Story.

The Weekend Australian - Life - - FOOD & WINE - @OstrowRuth RUTH OSTROW

Mak­ing my New Year’s res­o­lu­tion, I sud­denly heard my­self say: “I will be OK with OK.” It came into my head be­fore I even had a chance to an­a­lyse why I said it.

But slowly I un­der­stood. We have a prej­u­dice against “OK”. OK is not good enough. It’s all right but not great. The an­swer to “I’m OK thanks” is of­ten “Just OK?”

“OK” is six out of 10, be­tween “so-so” (or could be bet­ter) at five and “good” at seven. So we’re not happy with it. Taught to be as­pi­ra­tional and plea­sure-seek­ing, taught to seek the best part­ner, the great­est job, the best looks, wealth and the Happy Ever Af­ter in this cap­i­tal­ist re­al­ity, hav­ing an OK life just doesn’t cut the mustard.

To be OK look­ing, rea­son­ably tal­ented, have an OK part­ner and “do­ing all right” at work is never good enough, with ev­ery­one in a con­stant state of FOMO (fear of miss­ing out) and com­par­i­son — “He is bet­ter than me” … “She is worse”.

Yes, there are a con­tented few, but I re­cently did a work­shop about self-es­teem and it alarmed me the num­ber of peo­ple in the room who were dis­ap­pointed in them­selves, their part­ners or their lives. Many lamented they were just OK. Noth­ing spe­cial. Could do bet­ter, be bet­ter, have more.

This made them sad, feel­ing like fail­ures, in­se­cure, al­ways ques­tion­ing them­selves and en­gag­ing in neg­a­tive self-talk. Too many were rid­dled with the no­tion “I am in­ad­e­quate” or “my part­ner is in­ad­e­quate”.

The irony was that most of the peo­ple in the work­shop were pro­fes­sion­als, high-achiev­ers or tal­ented. Sev­eral kept fam­i­lies to­gether and worked through the nor­mal ar­ray of re­la­tion­ship dif­fi­cul­ties. But the fact ev­ery­thing was OK wasn’t enough. They were ashamed they weren’t more.

A de­gree of be­ing as­pi­ra­tional is a fan­tas­tic thing. But chronic, in­vis­i­ble per­fec­tion­ism cor­rodes the soul. Peace can be found only in let­ting life be good enough. Be­cause re­ally there are bet­ter things to do with one’s time than striv­ing/yearn­ing for more than a body or re­la­tion­ship can bear.

My favourite say­ing — hav­ing wit­nessed so many crash ’n’ burns as a fi­nance jour­nal­ist, and the fi­asco of Lance Arm­strong — is: “What drives you can drive you over the edge.” And we for­get life is short.

So I will “be OK with OK”. I’ll give my­self per­mis­sion to let it be good enough. To set­tle into a rea­son­able place, and not make my­self and ev­ery­one else mis­er­able by wish­ing it bet­ter or dif­fer­ent. It’s about ac­cep­tance that be­ing OK is fine.

Let’s let it be OK. Leave it alone, ac­cept it. OK is not the lazy, bovine en­emy of hap­pi­ness. It’s the wise best friend.

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