We live in a society that teaches us that we need to be constantly striving for the next level. Social media convinces us that there are so many people who have it better than we do, and as we watch these fake lives play out before us we start to jealously crave what other people have. This unhealthy desire forces us out of a mental state where we can find peace and contentment and casts us down into a pit of despair and self loathing.
It is incredibly hard to ignore the success of others. Part of our biological make up is designed to compare and contrast our status with that of the people who surround us. This is mostly a primal urge to not only pass our genetic information on to the next generation, but also to wipe out the competition. It’s in the very building blocks of who we are to want to have a leg up on the people around us.
Aside from biology, our social structure is predicated on status. We have a natural adulation for people who have found a way to become successful at the things we find meaningful. While this usually generates genuine admiration, there will always be a small part of us that resents such people because we wonder why they were able to do it and not us. Why should they be so successful while we toil at the bottom of the food chain?
The most interesting part to me about all of this is not the jealousy of those who haven’t made it, however, but the attitude of dissatisfaction that even very successful people can impose upon themselves. There is a part of us that has a certain end goal in mind, and as long as we haven’t reached that point we feel as if we simply haven’t made it. We look at what we have and it just isn’t good enough, no matter how much money we might make or how well other people might see us.
The world today is filled with angst. Most of it is probably justified, but a lot of it is simply an inability to be content with what we already have. All we can see is our dreams for the future and that our lives today don’t match that yet. Rather than be grateful for what we have accomplished so far, we struggle to find happiness in the present because of our yearning for the future.
This isn’t to say that we shouldn’t continue pushing toward the next step in our lives. Being content with what we have doesn’t have to mean that we stop trying to move forward. It simply means that we don’t allow what we haven’t earned yet to become a weight we carry on our shoulders. We look at what we have and allow ourselves to be proud of it, and make a rational decision to continue down the path.
Our lives have many facets that we have to manage all at once, and one of them is learning to be happy. It isn’t a feeling that we have and try to hold onto, but a state of mind that we have to cultivate and incorporate into who we are. Searching for a feeling will usually result in disappointment, but a disciplined system of choosing to be happy about your life can make all the difference in the world. You’ll never feel happy all the time, but your life can be happy if you choose it.
Perhaps the trick is simply learning to be happy with what you have before you try to move on to the next level. If we create a process where we don’t allow ourselves to move on until we find peace and contentment with where we are, it becomes much more likely that we will experience that feeling of happiness far more often because we are removing that feeling of failure that always seems to hang around. By fully completing one step before moving onto the next, we can be even more proud of what we accomplished because there is no baggage from the past weighing us down.
In the end, though, happiness is simply a choice. You can’t always help how you feel, but you can control how you think. When you sit down and decide that you’re not going to allow dissatisfaction to become a major influence in your life, you stand a much better chance of staving off the kind of depression that so many of us struggle with every day. Take a hard look at what you have accomplished and decide if it’s really as bad as your feelings are telling you it is. The likelihood is that you’ll be very surprised at how you really feel.
What do you think about being content? Is it a way of giving up, or can it help you to find a better life? What things in your life do you need to just be happy about? If we can learn to accept our accomplishments for what they are, we stand a much better chance of avoiding so many of the unnecessary problems we deal with. All we have to do is learn to change our frame of reference, and things can be so much better.
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