This blog was created to serve as an inspiration to all who read aspire, to love and to live a life of purpose.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Dear Carolyn, How Do I Force Myself to Be Happy For my Friends?

Happy Friday!

I'm an avid Carolyn Hax fan. She's a columnist for the Washington Post and I read her column everyday. Sometimes, just sometimes, I come across one that I really can't help but to share. 

Like yesterday.  The topic? Jealousy/Envy. It is a REAL emotion (AND one of the 7 deadliest sins listed in the Bible)- both being the giver and/or the receiver. If we'd admit it ourselves, even the person with the cleanest heart can get tempted to be jealous of another person. It's what you do with that feeling that matters. Acknowledge it first, then remind yourself of your own blessings. Moreover, my mom always says that it is being happy and celebrating for others that your own blessings come. I must add that you can't be a true friend to a person you're envious of. Personally, I cut off "friends" who show any signs of envy or unnecessary competition. Like I said in my 7 Mechanics of True Friendship and Curse of the Negatives posts, true friends should have mutual admiration for each other but never negativity. If someone you call your friend can't be genuinely happy for you and your achievements, cut them off. FAST!

But I digress....

The truth is that contentment is one of the hardest achievements for a human being. And I call it an "achievement" because it takes some will and self-direction to constantly remain in gratitude for the good in your life, especially when things seem dire. We always want what others have and sometimes, it seems like your problem is the biggest in the world. 

Like one of my friends mentioned last week, the truth is that if everyone was to expose their individual problems for grabs, you'll choose yours. Forget the facade, everyone is hurting somewhere. No one's life is perfect. Be content with yours. Focus on making YOU better and stop worrying about what others are doing or what they think about you.  God has entrusted you with yourself. You can't always make everything or everyone around you better, but you can always make yourself better!

Have a blessed weekend!

Oh yea....

Here's the Carolyn Hax letter that inspired the above mini-rant :-) Its worth the read!

Dear Carolyn:
You never seem to have a slow week, but I’m hoping you’ll get to my question.
How do I force myself to be happy for my friends?

They are all buying houses and taking fabulous vacations, while I am stuck in a studio apartment with no savings and years of student loans. I feel so jealous and angry that I can’t fake happiness for them, and my only proposed solution is to avoid them until I feel better.

And no, trying to be grateful for what little I do have has not helped me.

Helpless in Seattle

Dear Helpless in Seattle,
It needs to be a slow week for your question to matter? Are you always this quick to negate your own significance?

Yours is a legitimate problem, no less worthy than the others that appear here regularly.

One reason is its prevalence: There’s always someone who goes home to a better house in a better car.
Another reason is the impact: People who envy peers start to doubt themselves, which drains them of the resource they need most (a sense of self-worth), which then leads to reading random ups and downs as part of some cosmic conspiracy against them, which fuels the cycle of envy, anger and self-loathing.
There are ways out — but not by forcing yourself to love your apartment. It has to be through what you do. Such as, be an excellent friend/sibling/child/auntie/uncle, or a hardworking employee, a dedicated and compassionate volunteer, a nurturing pet owner, a fierce teammate, an uninhibited playmate/singer/dancer/artist, an insatiable reader, a generous host or cook — whatever taps into your best — thenbe proud and grateful you’re this way.
When you love your contribution, that’s when you’re able to say: “Yeah, nice house, but would I give up who I am to have it? No.” The fab house would require different choices, after all, and different choices would have created a different you.
Reaffirming your choices inoculates you against envy. Is it perfect, no — you’ll still gawk at a friend’s palace — but it’ll be a fleeting, not chronic, annoyance.

For Helpless:

You’re not alone! For nearly a decade I felt like I was barely treading water while my friends were off living fabulous lives. I resented them.

How I dealt with it: I just forced myself to focus on ME. I focused on getting out of debt, trying to earn more money, etc. I did avoid some of these friends. I just said it wasn’t personal, I needed time alone.
Some interesting things happened. That great big house my friend owned? Foreclosure. That luxury car? Leased or eight-year car loan. Overseas vacation? Maxed-out credit cards. That six-figure job? My friend got laid off. One friend actually told me he wished he had MY life.
You just don’t know what goes on in other people’s lives. . . . You have to focus on yours. So that’s what I did.
When you set and achieve smaller goals, it makes you feel more optimistic. I won’t lie — it took me a lot of time, but eventually I got to a less envious/resentful place.
Love this, thanks. Sometimes the luxury car is actually paid for, but your answer still applies: Set meaningful goals, work toward them, derive satisfaction accordingly.
Stay Inspired!

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