Keep an Attitude of Gratitude

Photo by Scott Holstein

Ever found yourself looking over your shoulder and comparing yourself, your relationship, your kids or your business/professional success to those around you?

Does your observation — at least what you see on the surface — make you rethink your current life. Or get you thinking about how you wish your life might be?

I was curious about how many people might actually make these comparisons. So, I conducted another one of my informal polls, asking the question of many people I know well — along with many I do not. The survey result: This tendency to compare ourselves with others is a lot more common than one might think.

  Brian Rowland, Photo by Scott Holstein

I do believe this comparative process is normal from middle school through college. It’s all part of our journey to become unique individuals. Although in some cases it can be carried to the extreme. There are schools in our community where kids evaluate and judge one another based on where they live, what their parents do and what kind of car they drive. In my opinion this can become an incubator for developing and perpetuating a superficial and meaningless lifestyle.
As we enter adulthood we usually go through the process of accepting our lives for what they are and ourselves for who we are.

When making comparisons to others, too many evaluate their merits and accomplishments based on how they believe others perceive them. And, without knowing all the facts, it’s easy to convince ourselves that other peoples’ lives are better and more appealing. With the abundance of reality shows on television and the constant bombardment of lifestyle ads, it is also easy to slip into the assumption that your self worth is less than it really is. But don’t fall into that “smoke and mirrors” trap.

The bottom line is that it’s just fine to look at others. But put whatever information you glean from that endeavor to a positive use. Comparisons can serve as motivating factors for us to get a better education, train harder to excel in sports, work smarter to make a company succeed or transform a destructive lifestyle into a healthier and happier one.

When one starts to evaluate his or her value by what we do not have, it is quite easy to overlook what we do have — and who really cares for you.

The “American Dream” is founded on working hard to create a better life. Fortunately, that path to a better life still exists in this country. People want better lives, and they deserve the opportunity to strive for that and make it happen. Ultimately, of course, it’s up to the individual’s vision, decisions that are made on life’s journey and motivation to make the changes necessary to achieve success.

Our country and its people are beginning to emerge from four dreadful years during which jobs and homes were lost and the spirits of many were dampened or crushed. But there are signs the economy is beginning to return and, as a people, we are again beginning to look forward.

My hope is that the people and families of this region embrace the simplicity and the quality of life that they have.