Latest Hot Concern 8/26/13

Envy vs. Encouragement  The Battle Royale. I think that at times even the best among us struggle with this tug of war. A tug of war that insists that we rise above our occasionally petty instincts to want what others have. Their life, th...eir means, their adventures, their mindset, their overwhelming number of Facebook friends. So much to need, and so little time. It is so easy to wander onto the green, green grass of vicariously living someone else’s life or to wantingly eye their situation or circumstances. But as with so many things in life this is always a cautionary tale. I think that for many if not most people there is a “storefront.” An image or impression that we are willing to readily share with the world and then there is the “boiler room.” The reality zone where it all happens. Where we laugh and cry and struggle and do dishes and pull weeds and worry about finances and what’s for dinner. “Reality” TV has worked wonders on our ability to live a simulated life or to desire that which seems so entertaining and alluring when it’s streaming live onto our laptop. But at what point do we stop living and wanting someone else’s experience and instead savor our own? I think society has done a bang up job of getting us to buy into the notion that if it’s successful and flashy and fabulous, it is worth wanting. But in reality, it is a fool’s errand to spend your time pining over somebody else’s experience. I can absolutely guarantee that the more time you spend greedily eying the life you imagine somebody else to be leading, the less time you are spending purposefully seeking out ways to create your own kind of amazing. To be certain, we all succumb, at times, to our more base and covetous nature. But experience says, be careful what you wish for. Science has shown that once very basic needs are met, money and happiness part ways and for as many episodes of Million Dollar Listing as you may want to watch, the truth of the matter has never changed and it never will. Happiness is an inside job. And you can’t hire it out by the way. It will always be a function of YOU. Your energy, your efforts and what you choose to value and hold dear. My youngest brother, as we speak, is in Italy. Yesterday, I got the pictures of Positano and his next stop was diving at the Blue Grotto. So here is where Envy vs. Encouragement becomes the choice. To be fair, I love my brother so much that it is instinctive to be happy for him. Scratch that, not just happy, literally overjoyed for the experience he is having, the memories he is making and the fact that he is the sort of person that seeks out that which is extraordinary. That he insists on it in his life. A few months ago he was in Thailand doing the very same thing. Capturing life and LIVING it. Not watching it, not hoping for it, but living it. If I was being texted similar pictures from a friend or an acquaintance, would these pictures sting just a little bit? Would there be a small, begrudging part of me that would envy the fact that these were their pictures of paradise and not mine? Not if I choose encouragement over envy. The most impressive people I know absolutely take notes from others. They look around at people they know and admire and make a mental shopping list of what they want. They borrow inspiration from watching others and use this to identify what, for THEM is not just important, but necessary. Interestingly, they are rarely choosing what is necessary to HAVE, they are always choosing what is necessary to FEEL. A sense of love and connection with a spouse or significant other. The joy of a strong family that laughs and lives and shares. The ability to feel a sense of pride and accomplishment in what it is they “do.” A daily experience of that which motivates and inspires them…a commitment to that which draws their passion and stirs their soul. An undeniable link to faith and a belief system. If they see this in others and it drives them toward their own journey, these are the people who have chosen to be encouraged, rather than envious. We can look at another’s life and circumstances and want what we imagine them to have, or we can see that which ignites our own inner fires and use this to inspire our own enthusiasm and passion. The good news is that the outcome is entirely of our own choosing. We can live enviously through cable TV and the impressive litany of lives it displays that are far more interesting or impressive than our own. Or we can take really good notes on what we see in those we respect and admire and allow how those priorities FEEL to encourage us to find our way to the Blue Grotto, a quiet campfire or any other vision that resonates with who you are and what you want. Choose encouragement and these moments, memories and feelings will belong to YOU. Choose envy and those spaces, places and feelings will always belong to someone else. So for as much as I can tell my brother that if I see one more picture of him frolicking in his Mediterranean playground, I’m going begin sobbing uncontrollably, the fact of the matter is, I’m smiling from ear to ear and couldn’t possibly be happier for him. But at the same time his joy is inspiring me toward my own. And one day I WILL be touching that water and taking those pictures myself. So let us be grateful to those who are taking on life’s adventure, as they are the best encouragement imaginable for us to create our own.