Lately I have been in one of those funks- feeling that all was not well with the world. In speaking to others I know that so many can relate.
Like all the past blog posts on this subject, I tried the usual things to snap out of it- exercise, getting enough sleep, gratitude journal, getting outside in the sun and air, etc. But I couldn't shake the feeling.
This morning as I was brushing my teeth I had the "Aha!" moment. I realized that I have been playing the comparison game and I was losing. You know how it is played. You start to think of people you know or the people you see online or in the media. If you are remotely in their social/business circles they all seem more successful, well-liked, better connections, well-known, better shape, more helpful, well balanced, etc. You name the criteria and those people are always higher on the scale than you. As you get deeper into the misconceptions of the comparison game, you decide that you can never be a player on their level, so you end up living vicarious through what they do or say. You spend more time following them than you do actually living. You become paralyzed to truly live life because it seems that you will never be fast enough, smart enough, pretty enough, wealthy enough, influential enough. Not healthy.
The comparison game can even be played by yourself. You can be so concerned with yesterday or the future, comparing what did happen or thinking what will happen that the present gets overlooked. You are never truly engaged in the "here and now".
Either way it is a vortex in which we get pulled.
I have had enough. I am tired of being pulled down.
My epiphany this morning was that I need to learn contentment. No matter what the circumstances I need to be grateful for my portion and not worry about anyone else's. "Concern yourself with yourself"- the universal words of parents or teachers. How many times have I said that to one of the boys when he would complain that his brother was getting some type of treat over what he was receiving? How often did I hear that in school when one of my classmates would bring to the whole class's attention that Bobby was allowed to go to leave the room to get something from his locker and the speaker did not?
I think I finally got the "aha"- to be content with my lot in life, with my day as it unfolds and with what I feel called to do. It is when I live like that I am filled with joy. That joy spills out in all that I do and say. When I hear what friends and colleagues are doing I can be gracious and happy for them and not enter the comparison realm. I am content with what I am doing and therefore it doesn't matter what others are doing.
Besides being content I need to be vigilant to not even begin the comparison game. I need to shut down those thoughts for they are not productive. It causes me to become stagnant.
For example, the comparison game has semi-paralyzed me with my writing. I read other blogs, follow artists on Instagram, check out websites of authors and before I know it, I haven't done anything that I feel called to do. It is good to keep up with the business but not at the expense of my own work. All it has accomplished is making me feel inadequate, inept and unprepared.
Comparisons have become such a problem for me that I do not even want to host a gathering of dear friends at my home. Our home is small with two barking greeters (once everyone arrives they do settle down quietly). I start worrying that the guests will not be comfortable in their seats or that they will be annoyed by our friendly four-footed greeters. I have lost my confidence in entertaining and in hosting things. All due to the fact of comparing myself to others in the group. "They all have bigger homes, they know just what food items to make, they are more hospitable." That type of thinking just saps the energy and wastes time. It also becomes a self-fulling prophecy. If I start thinking I am not hospitable then I will become inhospitable.
I am always drawn to the people who have a joie de vive. They enjoy what they are doing at the moment that they are doing it. Many of them have a devil may care attitude. They are not worrying about what others think but are experiencing life as best they know how. They are enjoying the now: where they are, what they have, what they are doing, and with whom they are doing it. I think when we concern ourselves with ourselves and what we feel called to do we can concentrate on that exclusively. We do not have to worry about what others are doing or thinking.
For me it requires that I live in the present. It is saying "I will..." I will fill my mind with what is truthful, honorable, beautiful, pure, uplifting, praise worthy and encouraging. I will concentrate on my writing and in learning more about my craft. I will be as gracious as I can. I will invite people over. I will live in the now. I will be more joyful.
What about you? Have you ever played the comparison game? How did it turn out? Do you live in the here and now? How do you do it? Do you live your life with joy?