I have something of a confession: I’m a bit envious of people I perceive as happy. This is something that sounds generally weird to me, but over time I have started to realize that it is less weird and more just uncomfortable: a lot of people are a smidge jealous of those who they think have “better” lives then they do. For me “better” manifests as “happier”.
This isn’t to say that I am unhappy. I do have my challenges with depression as well as anxiety, but on the whole I am good with my life. We all have our moments, but I always feel this need and drive to compare myself to other people. Sometimes I will spend time looking through the photos of my friends on Facebook or just observing people in my life. One notable time I actually got my hair cut the same way as a friend I felt had it all together. Fortunately it was a style that worked for me.
None of these behaviors are exactly unhealthy, but they do me (or anyone else) any favors. Constantly holding myself up to this arbitrary yard stick always finds me lacking and I find myself consistently lacking I find myself getting mean. It comes out in sharp words and social media posts and it comes out in the way I treat myself. It cycles into a process of self abuse instead of self care and does nothing to drive me to improve.
I’m really tired of that, and I decided to do something different.
Last Friday I asked myself the question “what one thing makes me feel better about myself and the world?” It seemed like something impossible to answer at first, but then I thought about it a little differently and asked “when I feel my best, what is it that I’m doing?” The answer to that came almost immediately. I am at my best when I am practicing kindness.
I know. That sounds like a whole bunch of steaming, self-satisfying crap. I know, but I swear it’s true. I am at my best when I am actively holding myself accountable for the words that come from me and the actions that I carry out. I feel better and am more productive when I try to put something good into the world instead of just snarking about how stupid I think SE Cupp is or how I think the twenty-four hour news cycle ruined my former profession and made everyone idiots. It takes a lot of mental energy to be negative and to gravitate towards negativity. When I choose being nice and saying things that are more positive, when I step back from posting every quirky photo I take on Instagram, when I take a moment to think about the feelings of others I am a better person. I’m happier. I don’t feel jealous of the people in my world who have social media pages full of comments of people telling them how great they are because I let myself recognize my own greatness.
And I am great. We all are.
So I’m undertaking what I am calling my own personal Kindness Project. I’m trying to make it a point to be more thoughtful about what I say, to listen more, and to offer positive and supportive words to the people around me. I’m choosing to not covet the “better” lives of people around me. I’m trying to overcome my own insecurities by smiling and focusing on the good. It’s not perfect. I did tweet some snark about things yesterday and I caught myself wishing I were prettier earlier, but I’m catching myself being negative and it’s making a difference. At the end of the day I simply want to be a voice of good and to be someone that the young folks in my life can look up to. We live in a world full of hurt, but it’s also full of good. I want to be on that side of the scale.