• michaelabennison

Don't Miss the Beauty of Living

So apparently, as humans we have a tendency to compare our own lives to other peoples.

In case you didn't know, this can be very messy/depressing because we have a habit of exaggerating our own shortcomings whilst at the same time only really seeing all the awesome stuff other people are doing. And we also think the awesome stuff other people are doing is better than our awesome stuff.

Double messy depressing-ness.

But why do we put so much value on what other people have achieved compared to what we achieve?

The thing is, life is not about achievement. We were not put on Earth to achieve things. We're are here simply because the increasing entropy of the universe has created a system whereby, on this planet, a bunch of atoms bunched together to make me, you and everyone and everything who has existed and is existing. And those same atoms will go on to create everyone and everything that will ever exist until the end of the universe as we know it.

The above is grossly simplified, but the point still stands: there is, fundamentally, no point to us being here other than as the result of a quantum accident.

But as humans, we look for meaning in our lives. I mean, if didn't think my life could mean anything, then that would be depressing and I would probably jump off a bridge. And we can find meaning for our lives from religion, spirituality, or simply by creating our own personal definition of why we, either as individuals or the human race, are here.

The point is we control our definition of what it means to be alive and have achieved something! Even if you are religious and believe a divine force lays out how we should live our lives, we still get to chose if we follow that path and how we interpret it.

And being able to stand up and say "In my life what I want are these things, and I will judge my life by my own standards and no one elses" is a beautifully powerful thing. It takes all the anxiety (well, mostly) out of life and allows you to enjoy the short interval between being a fertilized egg in a fleshy incubator and biting the dust.

So, if we control our definition of achievement, why do we compare ourselves to our peers so much? Why do we let societal constraints dictate our worth as human beings?

From childhood, our western society tells us that achievement is a specific thing. It's being academically bright in a way that can be measured in standardised testing. Then, in your teens, it's being attractive and having a boyfriend/girlfriend (yep, that is how many teens think. I remember vividly). Then it's getting a high paying job, getting married (because spouses are trophies), having a family and acquiring stuff like a house and cars and TVs.

And if your friends have that stuff and you don't, apparently you've failed.

Even if you have people who love you, or you have things that you've worked hard for, or you care about and contribute to the world in some way, or you've overcome difficult personal battles.

But we can chose not to judge ourselves by those standards.

We can chose not to believe that we need these specific things at a specific time, or it's too late. We can chose to live our own lives, write our own stories and feel ok about not fitting into the boxes we seem to be pushed into.

Life is not linear. It's not in stages with different achievements to unlock until you get to the end and...what? Die? Or sit in your house full of stuff?

But if we live our lives like that, we run the risk of missing the beauty of living.

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