It’s time for inspiration corner again. Not long ago, I got on my stationary bike for a few minutes. I have to be careful because of a knee injury from a few years back, so I can’t do what I used to do on it. I’m slowly making traction again, and most of the time I’m proud of that. Andria happened to be here that day — she’s here a couple days a week — and when I got off the bike, I said to her, “Well, it was only a mile, and not as fast as I used to do it —” and I was about to finish the sentence with, “But at least I did it.”
She stopped me. She said, “Forget about what you used to be able to do. Focus on what you can do now. Forget about the past successes, and focus on making success for the present.” That’s paraphrasing it a little, but she was right.
It is so easy to get into the habit of comparing ourselves to others or, almost worse, to a better version of our past self that we feel we’ve lost. The only thing that that comparison will do is to make us feel horrible. It’s a habit I need to stop, because it’s a trap I still fall into.
What I used to be able to do makes no difference now. All that matters is the present and what I can do, and that I work from here. All that matters is that I do the best I can today, and that each day I strive to do the best I can.
So if you’re agonizing about having gained 20 pounds in the past few years, or that you can’t eat the same way you use to, or that you can’t do a backbend when you use to, or even that you’re not making as much your friend, not selling as many books as another author, not driving as nice of a car as your neighbor, well—it’s time to put on the brakes.
Every person’s experience is unique, and we can’t possibly know what another person is going through unless we have an in-depth knowledge of their life. Even then, we don’t really know what it feels like to be in their shoes. We can empathize, we may have similar issues, but every person has a unique set of joys and sorrows, of successes and failures, of wins and losses.
So you’re not selling as many books as author is? Well, that author be may be facing the loss of a spouse, or a parent who is falling into dementia, or they may be struggling with a personal illness. So you’re not as limber and athletic as a coworker? Your coworker might be facing a struggle with substance abuse and perhaps exercise is their only way to combat it. These are just two examples, but you can see how this works in just about any direction. Try not to let envy or regret eat you up, because both emotions sap vital energy that we can put toward success or toward happiness or joy.
There are always things we could have done better, there will always be roads we didn’t take that led to shining fields. There will always be someone who is doing better, someone who seems to have more than we do. But for every person who is “ahead” of us, there’s going to be someone struggling behind us, looking at our lives and wishing they could trade places with us. And they don’t see the problems that we’re facing, they only see the outward results. One hard truth is that a number of disabilities are invisible to the outer world, and so are a number of life-threatening struggles.
So congratulate yourself for where you’re at now. Congratulate yourself for making it this far. When you achieve something — small or large — celebrate that success. embrace it and don’t water it down by comparing it to what you used to be able to do.
This week, peeps, I want you to tell me of a success that you’ve had — and I don’t want to hear any qualifications. I don’t want to hear, “I did XXX, though it wasn’t as good as when I did YYY.” All I want to hear is something you’ve done this week, something that you are proud of, without any qualifications. So get busy in the comments, and let’s all celebrate whatever victories we’ve had, whether large or small.