The question for each man to settle is not what he would do if he had means, time, influence and educational advantages; the question is what he will do with the things he has.
Hamilton Wright Mabie
I chose this quote today as it hit home with a situation I’ve been watching over the last two days.
A dear friend of mine let his headspace get into serious grumpiness about his job. He is tired from working long hours, disappointed with his managers because of constant poor decision making, and frustrated that this is the way the company has been for a long time. He then went on a rant about his age, how he doesn’t have a degree to go do something better, how poorly he’s paid and so on. Then he started drawing how a neighbour just got laid off because of his age into his drama .
I listened, these rants are nothing new to me. From my perspective they’re fully self-inflicted and never seem to get him anywhere. Yet, these are relatively regular events. (It’s always easier to see this behaviour in someone else, I’m hardly a saint myself.)
The next morning he caught up with a friend who had just lost his job. He was really angry, he’d only just taken the job a few months ago. Because of the new job his family had moved to a new home with a bigger mortgage.
This put a whole new perspective on my friend’s situation. He suddenly felt grateful to the company that had given him a job when he didn’t think anyone would, despite his age. He felt grateful to the company that made him a full-time employee, so he had a level of certain income and work. He realised his family isn’t worried about whether they choose between mortgage or food for dinner.
Seeing someone in a far worse situation helped my friend change his attention away from what he didn’t have (a perfect job in a perfect world) and recognise what he already did have.
Being dissatisfied with where you are is nothing new and nothing wrong with it, so long as we keep it under control. Wanting more is part of the human condition. But appreciating and making the best of what you already have is essential. It keeps the drive-for-more as a means to grow, rather than becoming a means of destroying the gifts you already hold in your hand.
What happened to you recently to wake you up from the seductive slumber of self-pity and wake up to the gifts you have?