Measuring up isn’t the road to happiness.
Did you grow up with siblings? Or close friends who were almost a member of your family? Undoubtedly, at some point, some well-meaning grown-up said something like, “Why can’t you be more like ___?”
Later, as you were finishing up high school and preparing for life after 12th grade, there were lots of opportunities to compare yourself with others, and maybe feel like you were coming up short. SAT scores, anyone? Which colleges accepted you, and which didn’t, and how do those compare to your friends’ college letters? And the high-school graduation car – did you get one, and was it cooler than the ones the other kids got?
Confession time – there was always someone smarter than me at school. My best friend got accepted at way better schools than I did. And my family didn’t “do” graduation cars at all. Maybe your experiences were similar? Do you remember how that made you feel? I’m guessing “happy” isn’t the word you’d use, either.
Comparing yourself to others, or allowing someone else (even someone who professes to love you) to tell you what you SHOULD be, how you SHOULD act, or what you SHOULD believe is a happiness-killer.
Don’t SHOULD on yourself, and don’t let anyone else do it, either.
“Should” isn’t a loving word, it’s a controlling word. When someone tells you that you should do something, chances are the outcome will benefit them in some way. When you tell yourself that you should do something, chances are you’re playing back words you heard in childhood – you should do well in school, you should keep your room clean, you should be more graceful, or maybe the word you heard was athletic.
You should do well in school, like your big brother.
You should keep your room clean, like I always did as a child.
You should be more graceful, like your cousin who won the beauty pageant.
You should be more athletic, like your brother who’s going to college on a football scholarship.
You should…you should NOT listen to people who should on you, especially if you’re the one doing it to yourself.
Even if the words aren’t said, you understand that you are being measured and are coming up short. That doesn’t feel good. Ever. But here’s the good news – you don’t have to participate in the pain.
Be who you are. Do what makes you happy. Some of the people in your life may be scandalized, but that tells you about them, not about you. The people who were put on this earth to truly love you will be drawn to you, because you’ll be happier and more content.
And then you’ll be even happier. See how this works?
I’d love to hear what you think about comparisons and happiness. Drop me a note – sandy (at sign) sandyjweaver (dot) com. Have a happier day!