I am a big fan of thought-provoking quotes, poems, fables, and short stories. I find myself jotting down things I read or hear so I don’t forget them. And yes, I have stuck things to the fridge, bathroom mirror, dash board, and computer monitor to motivate me, keep me on track, and remind me to strive for being the best I can be. There was one poem that I had copied and hung on my wall in college, The Man in the Glass, by Peter Dale Wimbrow, Sr. (See poem below this blog.)
The gist of that poem is that no matter how good you are, how much you do, or what others think of you, at the end of the day, it’s what you, the person looking back in the mirror, think that matters most. At a time when anxiety, depression, and suicides are increasing like never before in history, it’s apparent that humans are drifting further and further from the one thing we all want (and need) most… happiness.
We could blame it on consumerism, advertisers, social media, or a whole list of other things or people, but the bottom line is that we are responsible for our own happiness, success, and contentment. The cool thing is that these things don’t come from somewhere or someone, they come from within. But the only way we can tap into those feelings and emotions is to make sure our intentions are solid.
Stop and ask yourself, really ask yourself, why you bought the car you drive. Why did you buy the house you bought? Why did you choose to do what you do for a living? If anything you do is to impress others, to fulfill another person’s wishes, or to make yourself look or feel better around others, you are a walking timebomb. The fastest car, the biggest house, going to the most prestigious college, or making the most money have proven NOT to be the answers to happiness.
Not only does that eternal effort to impress or please others lead to emptiness and lack, it’s a never-ending quest without a finish line. And let’s say you get the fastest car, or the biggest house, or win the highest award, it’s only a matter of time until someone outdoes you, ripping that little morsel of satisfaction right out of your hands.
So, who should you be trying to impress? That’s simple… yourself! Yep, the person you’re with the most, the one you can’t get away from, the one that knows the truth, and the one who will be with you until the end. And you don’t have to wonder what the person you’re trying to impress is thinking, because YOU always know.
A simple test would be to ask yourself, if no one else knew what you had or did, would you still have what you have or do what you do? Are you doing what you do, and do you have what you have, because it is what YOU want to do and have? Or are the perceptions and beliefs of those around you dictating the things you buy, the choices you make, and the things you do?
We are all influenced by what others say and think. It would be foolish and unrealistic to think otherwise. So, I am not suggesting this as a possibility. What I am suggesting is that you become more aware of it. Work on changing it. Realize what it is doing to you, how it is harming you, and how it is responsible for, or contributing to, your unhappiness.
The biggest battle we will ever fight is the battle within our own heads. We’ve become a world of followers, listening to everyone else, acting the way they want us to act, thinking the way they want us to think, and believing what they want us to believe. This is your life. It’s you that you must impress. “For it isn’t a man’s father, mother, or wife, whose judgement upon him must pass, the fellow whose verdict counts most in life, is the man staring back from the glass.”