Many times when I read updates from those listed on Facebook, I tend to get a bit discouraged. Everyone seems to be having such a good time. Their lives appear to be so successful. So many wonderful posts and pictures let us believe life for them is just perfect. Stories of their latest travel adventures, purchase of beautiful homes, new cars in the driveway, constant partying, families so loving and successful, fulfilling jobs and everyone smiling and happy! Can it really be? When I read what they have to say I immediately ask, why not me? Why isn’t my life as wonderful as theirs?
It is easy to fall into the “Why Not Me” abyss. When we have do deal with job loss, demotion, a difficult employer, financial strain, health challenges, relationship stress and difficult family matters, we wonder what we did to be dealt such a poor state in life. We make it worse when we start comparing our lives to others.
There is a simple rule in life that seems to hold true for just about everything and everyone. It’s called the 80/20 rule. In business, we use it to analyze our customers: for example, typically 80% of revenues come from 20% of our customers. In life, as we measure it over the long term, we know 80% of our lives lived will be good and 20% will be difficult. Sometimes we may find ourselves in the 20% while others are in the 80%. But we definitely know, on the average, others will have their 20% at some time and we will have our 80%.
Facebook is not a good place to compare our lives to others. Facebook tends to represent only the 80% and not the 20%. Very seldom would you see individuals posting and celebrating a termination of employment; an announcement of divorce, a declaration of ill health, etc. Facebook only posts the good and so we need to take it at “face” value. Because, Facebook is not a realistic “book” about lives lived.
Many years ago I heard an older gentlemen speak on the topic “Why good things happen to bad people and bad things happen to good people!” Have you ever asked yourself that question? I have. Just recently I asked:
-how come they can retire early and buy a big beautiful house with a shiny new car, and I can’t?
-how come their kids all have secure jobs and promising careers and mine don’t?
-how come I lost my job and can’t find another one but they seem to have no problem?
-how come they are always asked to participate and I am ignored?
-how come I always a having health problems and they don’t?
-how come those who I thought cared about me, really don’t?
-how come, how come, how come? What did I do wrong?
But then I am reminded of the 80/20 rule. Everyone has difficulty. Everyone has success. It just doesn’t always happen at the same time as other’s.
When I was enjoying success my friend lost his job. He no doubt had the same question as I do now. When I was celebrating success others were facing failure. When I was seemingly strong and healthy, others were in crises.
But it’s my turn now. I am in the 20% zone. But I know with patience and perseverance, with focus and faith, with discipline and determination, soon my zone will change. It’s just a matter of time.
Life is not about the moment we might find ourselves in. It’s about the life we plan to live. As we look to the future, we can be assured, if we stop comparing ourselves to what others are saying or doing, and simply focus on what is important to us, life will be good. But, we must determine what we value in life.
We recently had dinner with a couple who did not have much in a material sense. A small rented apartment contained enough furniture to be seated comfortably. There was no TV since cable was unaffordable. We sat at a dining table with simple but practical decorations. A chest of drawers served double duty as a stereo stand and a place to store clothes. But did it matter? No!
We spent several hours talking, laughing, eating and drinking while in the background, musical classics from years past played on a turntable brought forth comfort and joy. Not once did the simplicity of the surroundings interfere with what was truly important. Good times did not demand much. But time spent with friends and loved ones was invaluable.
To be content is the secret to happiness. With whatever I have, with whoever I am, with wherever I reside. If I can learn to be content then it matters not what false stories about the secrets of happiness are posted and told.
Where are you in life today? Are you asking “Why not me?”
Don’t long for someone else’s life. Why? Because their lives will succumb to the 80/20 rule as much as yours, just not maybe at the same time. Don’t believe all the hype? Why? It doesn’t present the truth? Don’t be fooled by a tourist’s picture of life. Why? It only represents a short moment of life’s entire journey.
Believe in yourself. Don’t compare yourself to others. Set your own goals, and measure your life against these.
Why not me? The answer is simple. Why NOT me!
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