Several times a week, I remind Quinn to pay attention to our walk. You see, she tends to look around so much when we are out, that she has almost run into light poles, multiple trees and even a brick mailbox. Quinn, is of course, a dog, so she’s just doing what she does, and I can’t blame her (I just don’t want her to get hurt). But each time I remind her, I also reflect on a bigger truth, that I need to stay on MY walk, too. Because each of us has our own journey in life and by being focused on anyone else’s we may run into trouble.
In my experience, “looking around” tends to be one of three things.
- Comparison – Without doubt, a behavior that can get us sideways faster than any other, is comparison. When we make note of the similarities or differences between what we have (or think we should have) and what others have, it’s easy to think we are missing out or have somehow, been cheated.
- Taking offense – One of the things Kerri and I have been talking a lot about lately, is “what you look for, you will find” and this goes double for offense. If you are primed to see slights, they are everywhere and committed by everyone. When this happens, it’s all too easy to feel like everyone is against you and there is no one or nothing that is safe.
- Criticism – Whether it’s aimed toward yourself or others, criticism is toxic. When we criticize, we take note of (and usually express) disapproval for the faults and problems of ourselves or another (definition paraphrased from merriamwebster.com). By doing this, we erode any positive feelings and usually cause defensiveness, anger and eventually resentment.
So, what can (or should) we do instead?
- Instead of comparing, be pleased that someone has something good in their life. Whether it’s a new opportunity, beautiful family, or a shot at something great, let’s be happy for each other. The truth is, we don’t know what other people have gone through to get what they have, long hours, hard work, heartbreak, and disappointment. Being human is an ongoing cycle of highs and lows. This might be a moment of high for them, but inevitably, a low will eventually come, so let’s enjoy the present – for them and us.
- Instead of taking offense, remember that you are usually just an extra in someone else’s play. Their behavior isn’t a reflection of your value. Honestly, they would almost certainly be doing whatever they are doing, whoever was there. We tend to be way more sensitive than we need to be, so let’s remember that not everything is about us and that is a wonderful thing.
- Instead of criticizing, notice the good. There are always positive things about people and situations if you take the time to look. Be a strength spotter; let others know when you see possibility and positivity. Allow others to do the same without minimizing what they share.
Behaviors such as comparison, taking offense and criticism can become habits. We tend to get so used to the burdens we carry that we don’t always realize how heavy (and unhealthy) our load has become. Casting off those things that weigh us down allows us to enjoy our life more. It might take time to let go off these old patterns and adopt new ones, but we can do it.
So, focus on your own walk. Head high, eyes forward, one foot in front of the other. Breathe in the good and get rid of the rest. You got this.
Quinn and I can’t wait to see you out there.