It is sooo easy to get caught up in wanting what you don’t have. The high-end baby couture, the money,the boats, the vacations, the careers. I find myself wishing I had a different shape, a more exciting job, and a cabin with a giant hammock.
When it comes to “thou shalt not covet thy neighbors’ goods” – I need to go to confession more. At this rate, I’m likely to be struck by lightning.
Jealousy just doesn’t make you feel good inside: it cripples and blinds you to the awesome things you do have. It steals your contentment. It makes you anxious. It makes you bitchy and resentful. You are not fun to be around (I speak from personal experience and the testimony of friends who have called me on it when guilty of being “that girl”).
Comparing yourself to others creates an internal dialogue that somehow you are better or worse than someone else. Neither is healthy. Telling yourself you are better keeps you from working on your defects, and telling yourself you are worse becomes an excuse.
Here are a few things I’ve been taught over the years:
- Don’t assume. The stories we tell ourselves about the would-be happiness of others based on the cool things they have and do are usually pure fiction. That chick carrying a Prada bag with the fab social calendar may not actually like any of the people she is with, but utterly terrified to be alone.
- Skinny people (apparently) need love too. My size six friends want to be twos, and the size twos want to be zeros. They don’t eat much food, and are just as self-conscious – if not more stressed – about their own appearance as I am. There is fierce competition in the set. They also break easily and fall through grates routinely. (Have I mentioned most of my dearest friends are skinny? And gorgeous?) Give them many hugs…gentle ones.
- The more you put your focus on giving to others and work to make others’ lives happier, the less you focus on yourself or what you don’t have. Try volunteering. Shock your mother by showing up and doing something for her. Go clean your sister’s house.
- Focus on what you have. Lay on the floor in your house. Look at the ceiling and be grateful you have a roof. Imagine not having one. Put your hand on your belly. Is it full? Are you hungry? Even being able to ask that question is luxury. Are you wearing clothes? Do you have a car to take you to work? Do you get to have a job? If you have what you need, even if it isn’t what you want, you’re luckier than many, many people.
- If there is something you want, work for it. If you want the trip to Disney, start saving now. Put in more time at work, or get creative and figure out a way to increase your income if you can. You are the only one who can really do anything to improve your situation, regardless of how you got there. Take responsibility for making your life better.
Occasionally, when I remember to do these things, I find I feel an awful lot better about life and people in general. I’m still sarcastic, yes, but I enjoy life more.
The reality is unless we can learn to be happy In our own skins and content with what we have, chances are we won’t know what to do with more anyway.
That said, you people with the awesome boats and sweet swimming pools? I’m a great cook and would love to visit…