Given that we are full swing into the back to school season, I use this title only as an analogy for this week’s reoccurring topic.
It’s pretty easy to see what we don’t have. We have the fortune to live amongst such ease, and affluence that all we need to do is look outside our window and we see others with so much more than we have: bigger house, better car, happier relationship, cuter mate, cuter kids (ok not always lol). Not so easy to see what we have.
This week, everyone I speak with seems to be in “comparison mode”. As we get into our new fall groove individuals are taking a look at what they want better in their lives: slimmer, healthier bodies, better paycheck, greater ease at home. And what is so interesting to me is how the conversation at one point or another shifts toward comparing oneself to somebody whom they may or may not know. “Well she stays so slim!” “My one girlfriend just started the whatchacahoozit diet. Maybe I should do that!” “I hear that such and such a personal trainer will get me lean in 5 weeks.” “This guy I know just switched jobs and now he is making 4 times his previous salary.”
There seems to be a very delicate point at which what could be inspiration becomes more like envy.
Many years ago, a very wise wonderful Buddhist leader said to me (and I paraphrase from a Buddhist scripture) “the poor man will never get rich counting the rich man’s money.”
I love this concept. We can certainly be inspired by what others do, or have, or accomplish, but that does not mean their path is our path. So what do we need to keep moving forward in our wants, dreams, hopes, and desires without measuring our successes against someone else’s?
I believe at the core is a need for appreciation. Now this is tricky. I remember when I was in my twenties, being told I should (hate that word) write an appreciation list. Ughh, all I wanted to do was roll my eyes and suffer in what I really wanted that was not coming to me.
In that time, I didn’t have the wisdom, and didn’t have a mentor, or friend, who could really explain to me that developing appreciation for my own life would be critical to my happiness. So what I encourage each of us to do for the next thirty days, is to take a little time every day and really tune in to for what we are and can be sincerely grateful. And I mean really.
I think this can be supported by comparison as well. Not that we want to revel in someone else’s misery or misfortune. But just like with those things we see that we want to move toward, we can see the things that we know we do not suffer: maybe we see a sick person, and cherish our good health; maybe we see someone who is heartbroken and know that we are in a loving relationship; maybe we see someone who is battling obesity and know that our twenty pounds will seem effortless to shed by comparison.
Each of us has been blessed with different gifts. While we work to develop appreciation for them, and use what we have to achieve our desires, let’s also find ways to help others on their paths.
And as always, please let me know how you are doing.