"We cannot know, other people's private thoughts and actions, so we compare our insides to other folks' outsides -- we don't allow ourselves the life-altering knowledge that we are so far from alone. Our inner most expressions, thoughts, and behavior are the true norm. Only we don't talk about it." - Panache Desai
My favorite quote as it nails an issue almost all of us face -- glamorizing other's lives based on what we see on the outside yet downplaying our own beautiful lives no matter where we are. Comparison is the thief of joy but why is it so difficult for us to love our own lives and to always revert to what isn't working?
I was taught life wasn't perfect nor would it be a daily parade in my honor (thanks Dad), but it took more than some quick one-liners to get me enjoying life on a deeper level. I chose gratitude as my attitude in which I've learned to live my life although the he word itself used to cause me to have an immediate eye roll. I succumbed to embracing this mindset as a daily practice. It's like a light switch causing a perceptional switch and born out of not controlling or changing your situation, but how you view it. Think about it this way, when have you ever met a truly successful person who is happy with their life tell you how they received the short end of the stick or blamed a failure on someone else or takes time to talk negatively about someone else's life choices? Even a happy single friend who claims, "all the good ones are taken." Never. Those who practice gratitude don't see life through that lens and even though everyone has a 'story,' it's those who flipped the switch on perspective that come out swinging and feeling damn good regardless of life's circumstances.
Life didn't always go as smooth and has my type-A perfectionist mentality had planned. I was always prepared for twists and turns as my father had prepared me for. He had gotten in a car accident in his early 30s prior to my birth and completely lost all use of his vocal cords. Post business school, in the working world, single and with no voice other than a soft whisper he and had to relearn how to love life on different terms. I had always known him to be the first out of bed to read the paper, excelling in the business world, coach baseball always teaching the kids mental strategies in striking out in life but always getting back up. I had always thought those who have gone through tragedy are shoved into the mindset of gratitude in order to survive but later learned it's something that must be learned, practiced, and it's a choice to reprogram your brain. I was exposed to this level of thinking early on, yet still didn't sink in just yet.
Everyone has a story no matter how phenomenal their life looks, but what keeps them feeling so good are the golden nuggets they've found within it. My parents divorced and my brother grappled with a life threatening addiction shortly afterwards which lasted all throughout high school. I remember one of my AHA moments was in the guidance counselors office where she said, "Ivy, the Chinese symbol for crisis is composed of two characters: danger and opportunity." I had to view this crisis as an opportunity, which I thought was absolutely absurd. I was on the brink of losing my brother and I was going to be grateful for this? You get to a point where you can't change the situation you're in, but you can use your perspective as a springboard. I was also well aware that life is like a boomerang; the more positive and grateful you are, naturally more wonderful things continue to show up. Such an annoying concept at 15 years old.
I started small and was grateful for the fire inside of me to thrive, and this theme has never left me.
Today my morning gratitude list runs the gamut -- from being wise enough to seek out those who had their own springboards in life to a healthy mindset to choose paths that continue to guide me through not just an ordinary life, but one that I fall in love with each and every morning.
I'm grateful for the relationship I have with myself, my ability to love at least one element of another person no matter who they are, and of course, my brother's 10 years clean this past February.
Stop looking around you and start diving into all that you have to be grateful for. In the end, it's the key to building a life that feels good on the inside, and that's the only place that matters.