On a scale of 1-10, where does your satisfaction with life tend to hover? If it’s not consistently toward the high end of the scale, I’m willing to bet that a least a few of the following apply. If anything on this list screams your name…good news. I’m not selling a pill, a cleanse, a program or seminar tickets. Getting to next level satisfaction is free. Monetarily, at least. It will cost you some pride, but that’s a good exchange since you’re likely diminishing your dignity, already. It’s a funny thing, pride and dignity…they are almost always inversely proportionate. I’m not talking about the self pride we feel after a long sought after goal is achieved. That is personal success and should be regarded as such. I’m referring to the pride that puts our thoughts and beliefs into a gridlock and even though we get glimpses of our obstinance, we dig our heels in deeper, less willing to be apologetic or see things from another’s perspective rather than back down. I have actually continued to argue a point, an event, a wrong, even AFTER it strikes me, “Oh, shit. They’re right.” This pride erodes dignity. Now, you’re wrong AND stupid. But, acquiescing would (gasp!) render our entire stance irrelevant. We can’t spend all that time proving our point, wrong though it may be, simply to say, “You’re right.” You can easily arrive at your own list of five things that are interfering with your satisfaction in life. My list, I know, is by no means universal, but I am fairly certain I’m not so unique that most of you can’t relate to some of these toxic tendencies.
1.) It is none of your business if another person does not see your worth.
This one is an ego slap followed by liberation of the soul. How dare they. I’m a good person. I’m gonna PROVE to them how good I am by combatting every fabricated thing they believe to be true about me. No. Nope. Stop. It’s not worth your time. And, it’s none of your business. Not everyone is gonna like you. Not everyone is gonna understand you. Some people will avoid you for reasons unknown. That. Is just fine. Dismiss. Move on. Surround yourself with your tribe that needs no further proof of the value you add to their life and the world at large. Freeeedom!
2.) It is none of your business what another person values.
We’ve all been there. The doorbell rings. It’s two or more strangers smiling like they’re in a Crest commercial and their introduction is, “If you die today, are you sure you would go to heaven?” For any Jehovah’s witnesses out there, I’m not ONLY talking to you, but I’m talking to you, too. I don’t let these people into my home. I don’t engage in conversation. I don’t even answer them. I now say, “Have a great day, and I hope you go to heaven. Not today, but, you know…whenever.” That is my go-to response for these folks. They have to be one of the most frustrated populations on the planet. They are literally asking to invade your home, question your belief system and point out where you’re wrong about beliefs you’ve spent your entire life carefully constructing. I use this group as an example to say, to some degree, we have all been a “Jehovah’s Witness.” We have argued fruitlessly with folks who will NEVER change their mind, regardless of the ignorance they possess. Racists will not suddenly become tolerant if you give six thousand reasons why they should be accepting of others. Democrats won’t vote Republican. Republicans won’t vote Democrat. Leave. It. Alone. The term, “Awareness” has been so abused over the years that we claim this auspice to push whatever personal agenda we hold as truth. Remember the last time someone sat down and completely changed everything you believe about world views, politics, religion and the flat earth theory? Didn’t think so. Save your breath and move on.
3.) It is none of your business if others take off their clothes for a living.
Now that I have your attention, it’s not only strippers that you have no business judging. You have exactly zero right to judge other’s morals. Period. It’s not even any of your business what those morals, or lack thereof, entail. We love our pedestals. Oh, stop it. Yes, you do. My dear friend and I have a saying that is both humorous and serious when we realize we’re engaged in gossip or downright throwing someone under the bus. It’s, “I can see EVERYthing from up here!” It signals that we are on our high horse and that while we could be dismayed at another’s decision making, we are no better because our mistakes are different. I’ve often said, “Given the same, exact set of circumstances, opportunities and limitations, I would likely make the same choices as you.” The truth is, if you’re not waking up in someone’s bed (minds out of the gutter…I’m talking about personification, here) living in their environment, experiencing their challenges, doing without the same things YOU currently have in abundance, you don’t know WHAT you would do differently. That’s an irrefutable fact. We can hypothesize all we want. It’s nice to THINK we know exactly what we would do, but think of the indecisiveness going on in your own life this minute. Yeah. You do NOT know what you would do in another’s situation. We use the term “high horse” as a singular for a good reason. Most of us only have one. Oh! I’m not guilty of EVER having done THAT…let me just get out my ladder and climb to the top of this horsey so I can look down on that moral peasant. Get down. You look ridiculous up there. And, if you fall, who’s gonna help you up? Probably the moral peasant standing at the base of your pedestal that you just condemned. Remember, it took millions of seemingly miniscule choices to land you where you are at this exact moment. It took the same for the person you are “better than.” Pity is another, more cunning form of a high horse. When we observe gawk-worthy behavior from people we barely know, we can slip into pity over their lack of ability to function as a capable adult. High horse. Get down. Empathy should be the aim. It doesn’t condone bad behavior, it seeks sensitivity surrounding another’s circumstances. Enough said on this. You have different moral muck than that person you pity. Yay, you. Now, move on.
4.) It is none of THEIR business to know details of your life.
If you’re feeling like I’m down on humans, by now, let’s shift gears. People, in general are nosey. Since my mission is to be as inclusive as possible to all who stumble across this page, we’ll call it, “inquisitive.” Regardless, the busy-bodies (oops, did it again…) appear eager to engage in details about your personal life…they are interested in you…they are fascinated by your lifestyle/career/relationships. If these same people are not in your tribe, you can almost bet they are information brokers. They are charming. They are agreeable. They are lovely human beings. And, they are toxic. I’m not trying to conjure paranoid thoughts that all acquaintances are out to get you. I am, however, saying we need to be aware of the needlessly curious. A sure fire way to weed out these nib-noses is to smile and ask in the least sarcastic tone you can muster, “Why do you want to know that?” If they are so brazen to inquire about private details surrounding your recent job loss, break up, or any “genre” of challenges you are facing, it is absolutely fair to ask why they want to know. Are they going to pay for a therapist? Are THEY a therapist? Do they just want to “show up” for you while you’re struggling? I often put a stop to these conversations early on by offering a, “Thank you for asking. If I need to talk, it’s good to know you’re concerned.” You’ve thanked them. Shut them up. And, given them a clue that the topic is not up for discussion. If they persist, perhaps then is the time to ask them why they are so interested. And, as always, “No,” is a complete sentence. Just remember, this is a two way street. Keep your side clean and stay out of your neighbor’s front yard.
5.) It is none of your business to wonder why the world isn’t fair.
Shit happens. It happens to ALL of us. When we’re under a proverbial fecal fan we, without effort, begin to notice the seeming perfection of the lives all around us. We create an alternate universe, where relationships have no discord, houses are always ready for a photoshoot of Pinterest, home cooked dinners are worthy of two thumbs up from Guy Fieri, and cars never run out of gas. Another favorite check-my-mental-space is, “Compare and despair.” If you follow my articles, you’ll recall I wrote one on just this topic. It bears repeating. That you are in the valley should have absolutely no bearing on how you perceive the lives of others. Why? A.) You’re wrong. B.) You’re wrong. When life is smooth and challenges minimal, there is little temptation to create a mental split screen of our current situation alongside the kick-ass life everyone in the free world is experiencing except you. I’ll tell you how I became such a big proponent of not comparing ourselves to others. I once had a high profile career. I interacted with everyone from television personalities, politicians, to big names who’d made it to the top of their game in a given industry. The ability to communicate as effectively with a homeless person as a governor is not a talent everyone possesses. I used to shrink, make myself ‘smaller than,’ so that others felt comfortable. I stopped doing that a long time ago. I stopped because I refuse to be less than I am. If that makes anyone in the room uncomfortable, that isn’t my problem. Secondly, it is arrogance turned inside out to think that if I show my true self, it will elicit a feeling of inferiority. Laughable, really. How noble of me. Today, I will tell you that I am good at a lot of things, and that I’m not good at a lot of things. Own them both. Having cleared that up, it’s common for others to feel safe telling me things they may have never told another soul. In having this dialogue over the years, there was one thing that came up repeatedly and never failed to bother me. Many people were under the impression that I really had my life together…that I knew exactly what I wanted and exactly how to achieve it…that I never encountered a challenge that baffled me. At no time was this more true than when I moved seaside after doing my time in an undesirable set of circumstances- from my job at the time to the climate I loathed. I said my goodbyes to a few cherished friends and quietly set about my voyage to the (honestly) unknown. There WOULD be an ocean. That much I knew, and not much more. I didn’t do it without hesitation. I didn’t do it feeling sure of my choice and certain of my path. I did it with fear and what if’s and, at times, a sense of utter insanity. When I was able to share the REAL story of how my life looked, and shared, “Dawn, unedited,” I relinquished the idea that I had been the one to create that illusion. It was neither my fault or my problem. I was more than happy to set the record straight, but I stopped wondering where people had gotten this warped idea that my life was perfect. It was all in their head. And, it came out…guess when…When they were struggling through life trying to keep their nose above water. We could probably all name friends who’ve gotten a divorce that was a shocker to everyone who knew them to be the perfect couple. We’ve envied them. We wondered why we couldn’t find a love like theirs. And, suddenly, the rings are off and they’ve signed the divorce papers. Alternate universe. So, when we’re asking why life isn’t fair, we’re really asking why everyone else has it so good. It’s simple, It’s their turn. They’ll get their turn in the shit storm, too, after yours has passed and you’re seeing more realistically that all cars need gas. In the meantime, conserve that wasted energy looking at the filtered, edited, cropped and “coincidentally” items sitting in the background (New Mercedes, #blessed) that give reason to wonder how everyone else has it so great. Focus instead on the hundreds of things going right in your life. Yes, there are easily hundreds you could list without even pausing. Don’t believe me? I assume you’re literate, since you’re reading this. Think the man who has to simply put an “x” by his name because he, for whatever reason, never learned to read and write thinks you have a better life than an illiterate? Can you legally drive a car? Do you have four functioning limbs? Would anyone who doesn’t, trade places not to be confined to a wheelchair? Are you hungry? If so, is there food in your kitchen? Do you HAVE a kitchen…you get the point. (BTW: If you sincerely answered, “Yes” and “No,” respectively, regarding being hungry and having no food, private message me. You will eat, today.) The world IS actually more fair than we’d like to think. Nobody stays in the valley. And, nobody stays on the mountain. Your work is to stay in the ring, baby. Better days are coming. You do you, and stop demanding that the alternate universe fulfill your delusions that you should have a perfect life, like everyone else. And, don’t worry too much about that, either…we all are prone to disillusionment. Just don’t stay there. Get up. Show up. Climb up. Shut up. We usually need to be working on at least one of these at any given time. And, I promise, the tendency to wallow in the world NOT being fair will eventually vanish. Peace, Warriors.