Do you compare yourself to others? We all do it, but understanding why the grass appears greener is half the battle. Gerry Hussey explains how we need to rephrase how we view our own lives.
The Greatest Book Ever Written
We see others and their lives through our eyes. This seems a very obvious thing to say but let’s look a little deeper. When we see things through our eyes the images and situations are quickly sent to the brain to process and make sense of. The brain, of course, likes order, logic and structure. It’s only normal then that when we view the life of someone else we see it as something that has order, logic and clarity. We see them in a nice house, with beautiful gardens playing with their family dog and our brain wants to complete this picture in an orderly way so we see. Nice house. Lovely gardens. Play. Family dog and then we the add in happiness as a logical consequence. Years of working with people has thought me one really important thing.
Happiness does not always link with logic
And more importantly, the things you have on the outside have very little to do with the things you feel on the inside.
When we view our own life we do not see it through our eyes. We see it through memory of the past and we also view it through the expectations of the our future. The difference is that we see our own life not through the brain but through emotion. We don’t see or view our own life at all. We feel it,
Very often these emotions include regret, sadness, anger, apathy or even fear. This colours all our events as we remember them through the emotions associated with these memories. This is a very different and biased way of looking at our lives. It can also stop us from seeing and enjoying the richness of our life experiences.
The Chess Player and chess piece
Very often our lives are busy places and we are constantly navigating work, family, relationships, children and other important life challenges. In this way we are like the chess piece. We move often and in many directions, navigating and reacting to the situations that unfold around us. This can be an exciting and rewarding place. But it can also be a very challenging and demanding place to be.
What we forget sometimes is that we are not just the chess piece. We are also the chess player. Very often our reactions and our behaviours are far more within our control than we think. As the chess player we need to step back at times and get perspective. We need to view our situation through our eyes and allow the brain to apply reason and logic to it. This allows us to see and to implement a more assured and more positive response.
Stepping back and looking at your past as the chess player also allows us to leave emotion such as regret, sadness and anger out of the equation and see it for what it really is. Most of us can safely say that our lives have had lots of ups and downs, twists and turns and unexpected experiences both good and bad.
A different view
Now isn’t this the very thing great books are made of. Isn’t this exactly the kind of book we would like to read? So switch off emotion for a second, switch off self-judgement and agree that even the most chaotic life would actually make a great book. In fact had life gone exactly according to our plan it would be a pretty boring book.
So let’s accept that right now you’re living in a story that is challenging, demanding, funny at times and doesn’t always make sense, Therefore it’s a story and a life that is rich in colour and experience.
In great books the main character doesn’t always have to know the details of the plot. They don’t always know how the book ends. They certainly don’t worry about how the book looks from outside. They are simply focused on being fully in the story and embracing the richness of each chapter in the here and now.
Here are a few questions.
- If your life was a book what would the name of it be?
- What can you say about the main character?
- What are the main chapters so far and what great learnings can you take from them?
- How has the main character changed as the book has developed?
- What do you love about the main character?
- What skill or thing would you like the main character to develop?
- What is the next chapter you would love to be written?
Let’s look at our lives as books, rich in colour, with changing plots and unexpected twists. Let’s accept that our story is special and is beautiful for all its parts. Let’s be the chess piece at time and fully engage in the here and the now. Let’s also decide that at times we will be the chess player and we will step back, switch off emotion and look at what game we are playing? Are we enjoying it? Who is setting the rules? How do I change the game if it’s not the game I want to be in?
Each and every day we get to write a new line, a new chapter. Each and every day we get to create our masterpiece. So don’t wait for someone else to write it for you because you can’t control what they put in it.
They say you live once, that’s not true. You die once but you get to live everyday.
If you want to read more from Gerry Hussey, try his article on how best to create a vision board