It’s easy to discount the ease with which others live their lives when we are not feeling it ourselves. We hear what they’re saying but jump to all the justifiable reasons of why our life is, and must continue to be, a struggle. We list the causes of our stress—very real stress, thank you very much, not the petty minor stresses of those other people—until our listing takes on the ironic tone of bragging.
It’s tempting to itemize our ailments as though our lifestyle choices had no bearing. We can blame bad luck, poor genes, and unavoidable circumstance—all of which may be true and valid—but if we focus on this, we’re likely to dismiss the choices we’ve made that have contributed to the condition. And those rare individuals that seem to skip though life? Well, we can dismiss them as being blessed. It’s true, of course. They are blessed. But it’s also a lovely way of saying they have been given something that we have not.
Blessings are real and deserving of being counted and appreciated but when we use the sentiment to justify an unpleasant condition in our lives, we are not only discounting the positive actions and attitudes of the blessed person, we are reinforcing our own helpless state.
By the way, even happy people can have an unpleasant condition in their lives. And being happy or successful does not immunize us from the careless use of thought and speech. Those things have power. The more we voice (and even think about) the stressful state of our conditions, the more we solidify and fix them into place.
We make choices about every aspect of our lives, including whether or not we stress. We also decide which comforts we can live without, or the degree of poverty we are willing to accept (or not) in order to achieve a lifestyle that brings us joy. We prioritize and then sacrifice those things that fall to the bottom, some of which—travel, health, adventure, expertise, financial security, freedom—are things that would be at the top of someone else’s list. When we find ourselves coveting those aspects present in the lives of others, it may be time to re-prioritize. Or it may be time to remind ourselves that there are only 24 hours in a day and choices have to be made.
Taking ownership of our conditions gives us a sense of ease in the midst of what others might consider to be hardship. This ease is a blessing that is self-generated rather than bestowed.