by Jennifer Dyer
For the last several months I’ve had a tight ache in the center of my chest and a restlessness that goes deeper than spring fever. No matter what I accomplish, I don’t feel like I did enough and even though some of my accomplishments are pretty good, I don’t see them as good enough. I feel like I’m living in a tiny hamster wheel, running until I’m breathless, but never getting anywhere, at least emotionally.
Do you ever feel this way?
Why why why do we do this to ourselves?
I think, at least for me, it’s because I live in the world of comparison. I feel great about my walk with the dog until I see my neighbor running her marathon. I’m excited by a win in a writing contest but then focus on my friend and her awesome bestselling novel. I can’t enjoy where I’m standing because I’m too busy looking someone else and thinking the ground they’re standing on is more awesome. Grass is greener and all that.
But what does this accomplish, aside from making me feel about two inches tall?
Comparison is no way to live. Yes, it’s always great to strive to be better, to learn more, to be kinder, but living in constant comparison is a trap. It’s a time sinkhole. It’s a waste.
And it doesn’t accomplish anything.
How do we combat this?
I think one of the keys is living with a thankful attitude. Some people I know keep a gratitude journal. Some put up daily gratitude posts on their social media. Sometimes I spend time thanking God for various aspects of my life.
No matter what works for you, the key is focus. I’ve used this example often, but it’s worth repeating. Have you ever skied or mountain biked? One of the things the instructors teach is to pick your focus. If you’re focused on the hole or rock in your path, guess where you’re headed? You’ll stumble every time.
Instead, instructors teach students to pick the clear path visually so that your focus is on the direction you need to take. Your path, not your friend’s path, not that other guy’s path. Your path. Focus anywhere else and you’re probably going to fall on your face. Sure, you get a very close-up view of the ground, but it really hurts and you get nowhere.
Focusing on the successes along another person’s path can derail our own successes and rob us of joy. We can miss the opportunities and joys in front of us. And we make ourselves miserable in the process.
Instead, I’m making a new goal to be thankful for what is in front of me and to appreciate my life. Yes, I’m always happy for other’s success, but I hope I won’t spend so much of my time focusing on what I haven’t done. Instead, I want to focus forward and up.
How about you?