For many people, this time of year is filled with reflection on the past and long lists of goals for the year ahead. Just in case being miserable is on your list of goals for 2015, I have discovered the surefire formula for success. I know, I know…you have been waiting your whole life for this, and I am the answer to your New Year’s prayer. Try to contain your excitement enough to read on.
1. COMPARE: Spend a majority of your time comparing yourself to everybody else that you know. For maximum effectiveness, be sure to compare your weaknesses to the best qualities of others. Try to convince yourself that you will win the comparison game one day. That will keep you playing long enough to maximize unhappiness.
After you have spent adequate time comparing yourself to others, start comparing your kids to other kids. If they are not as athletic, as popular, or as smart as other kids, make sure you let them know of your disappointment. Tell them over and over again how they should be as good as ________ (fill in the blank with the most talented and successful child that you know). If their best isn’t as good as somebody else’s best, push them harder. That way you can both be miserable together. That is the goal, right?
2. COMPETE: I am not talking about healthy athletic or business competition here. Rather, I am suggesting that you should do everything in your power to keep up with your friends and neighbors. If they buy a new car, you need a better one. If they take a vacation, you take a more expensive one. Use debt as a tool to impress others with the illusion of wealth, and try not to think about what will happen when it is time to settle those debts with money that you don’t really have. Debt has a way of stealing happiness and peace, which is what you are going for here. Remember that.
3. PRETEND: Put on a show for the world. Do whatever it takes to make them believe that you have never been happier, even if that is not the truth. Convince them that you have everything in order, even if you are secretly yearning for help and understanding. Make sure that your home is always clean, your children well-behaved, and your family picturesque. Put aside your true self and adopt a facade that is as near to perfect as you can muster. After all, what would people think if they knew the real you – the person who actually makes a mistake from time to time? They would probably be too quick to judge, and your impeccable image would be forever tarnished. Accepting yourself with your weaknesses and imperfections would eventually lead to a sense of liberating peace and happiness, and that is not what you are looking for anyway. It is better to be pretentious and unhappy. Maybe you will eventually convince yourself that you are perfect by pretending to be so, but I wouldn’t count on that. You know yourself too well.
So there you have it, friends. If you are looking for misery, this road-map will surely get you there in a hurry. And if you are looking for peace and happiness instead, simply insert the word “Stop” into the phrases above.
Stop Comparing. Stop Competing. Stop Pretending.
That one word changes everything. Now instead of misery, you will be more likely to find contentment, happiness, and authenticity. You will be less inclined to worry about what other people think about you, and more concerned with how you can make a difference by being yourself. You will realize that you CAN make a difference, despite the fact that you do not have every talent that you want, and even though you have imperfections and weaknesses. Everybody has those, and you will find yourself being more accepting of other people’s weaknesses as well. You will better grasp the idea that life is not a competition and will stop treating it as such…for you and for your kids. They need to know that their best is good enough for you. You will understand that stuff does not create happiness, and that trying to impress others by buying more of it will not get you very far. Above all, you will be on the road to becoming real…and that is a happy road to travel.
Take it from one who knows.