Are you happy?
This is a question I want you to think about as you read this. Don’t answer it right away. Really think about it.
Recently, a young friend of mine was conversing with someone her senior, when they got onto the topic of education opportunities and what kind of a career she wanted to pursue. Now, there’s no doubt that the older woman considered herself quite successful. But when my friend shared what she dreamt of doing for a living, the other woman laughed and put her down for even considering such a path. Needless to say, my friend was devastated and walked away in tears.
Does this sound familiar?
This isn’t really a new story. This kind of stuff happens on a daily basis. And it comes from all levels – friends, family, strangers. Some of it’s misguidedly well-meaning, while other times it seems the only goal is to make the other person feel like crap.
But why would you ask if your only goal was to make someone feel terrible about something so personal? What does it matter to her?
Well, that’s the real question isn’t it?
It’s a common human tendency to compare ourselves with others, and unfortunately, we often do so in a negative way. We may belittle others, criticize their choices, or even actively try to bring them down, all in an attempt to make ourselves feel superior. Now, I can’t say for sure whether this is what the woman in the story above was trying to do. Regardless of what her intent was, the end goal was pretty devastating.
So I ask again, are you happy?
Keep thinking about that.
It’s essential to recognize that putting others down to make ourselves feel better is a harmful and ultimately self-destructive behaviour that’s often rooted in insecurity. When we feel inadequate, we may try to elevate ourselves by tearing down those around us. This behaviour usually stems from a fear of not being good enough and a need to prove ourselves to others. However, instead of making us feel better, it only reinforces our insecurities and perpetuates a negative cycle of comparison and criticism. Do some people genuinely get a kick out of it? It’s hard to say.
Instead of putting others down, we should be focused on building ourselves up in a healthy way. This means recognizing and celebrating our strengths and accomplishments while acknowledging our weaknesses and areas for growth. Finding those things in life that make us smile. We should be supporting each other in our dreams and goals. Not crushing them. And if you don’t like what the other person is doing with their life to the point where you need to compare yourself to them, then it might be time to look in the mirror and ask yourself some hard questions.
Who are you? What do you want?
The late Heath Ledger once said, “Everyone you meet always asks if you have a career, are married or own a house as if life was some kind of grocery list. But no one asks if you are happy.”
I may not know much, but I can tell you this. Life is far too short to worry about the opinions of miserable people. It’s not a race. It’s not full of checkboxes. What works for one person, may not work for the other. If there’s something you want to do, then do it. If you know who or what you want to be, then be it!
So… I’ll ask one last time. Are you happy? And if not, what are you going to do about it?
“Don’t let anyone ever make you feel like you don’t deserve what you want. Go for it.”