Last week, my kids participated in a Derby Car Grand Prix. They’d worked hard on their cars – carefully designing, crafting, and painting them with the help of their dad. All of the competitors race their cars four times, and the four fastest compete for the speed awards. While our cars were competitive this year, none of the kids were up for a speed award. However, we knew each of them had a shot at the design trophies.
We sat and listened as the third place and second place winners were called. No luck. Then, the announcer called the name of the first place design winner, and my fourth grade son leapt to his feet – stunned and elated. I was beyond happy for him – and yet knew his achievement would be hard for our other three kids to swallow. I looked over at my eleven year old daughter – and my heart could have burst. She was smiling – practically beaming. In that moment, I knew she was genuinely happy for her brother – and I could not have been prouder.
It’s really easy to celebrate our own wins. It’s another thing altogether to celebrate someone else’s.
So many of us have bought into a powerful (and very self-destructive) lie – When someone else succeeds, I fail. The truth? When someone else succeeds, someone else succeeds.
The successes, achievements, and happiness of others does NOT compete with our own. Our worth is not impacted by the the success or failure of others.
But we have a way of making everything about us.
When our friend runs a marathon, we’re suddenly not fit enough, healthy enough, active enough.
When someone posts about their latest family vacation, our family suddenly becomes not rich enough, not fun enough, doesn’t do enough of the “right types” of activities together, etc.
When a colleague is praised at work, we’re not smart enough, not good enough at our job, etc.
When a friend posts a pic of a new haircut and gets a lot of positive feedback, we’re not pretty enough, not trendy enough, etc.
So much of our worth is tied up in comparison and shame. We feed the “not enough” feelings and fail to recognize our wins. In our shame-centric mind, we think “because my blessings look differently than hers, they are not enough.” Let me tell you – comparison + shame + discontent is a recipe for disaster. Resentment and bitterness grow as our self-worth diminishes. And that shame-storm swoops in and steals our joy – steals our moments – steals our ability to live in the present.
When we spend our time thinking about the lives of others – we miss out on our own. If we’re constantly resenting the blessings happening in the lives of our friends and acquaintances, we’ll miss out on recognizing our own blessings. Sure, they may look different – and our experiences will be different -but that’s because we’re different people – living out our unique callings. Our paths are as individual as we are – each full of unique highs and lows.
There is something so powerful in learning to be happy for other people. Not only does it allow us to lift others up, it frees us from the bondage of wrongful thinking. When someone else experiences a win or a blessing – it doesn’t mean your life stinks. When someone else is praised or recognized, it doesn’t mean you are not worthy of praise or recognition. You are worthy. Full stop. You are enough. (As you are.)
The next time your friend posts that vacation photo, is complimented on a recipe (even one you know you could make just as well), gets the “atta boy”, publishes the paper, runs the 5k, loses 10 lbs, or has the kid who potty trains at 10 months old – stop and recognize that it has nothing to do with you. That is THEIR path – their win – their blessing. And your life is chock-full of those moments too. So relish her wins – and then relish your own. They’re different. You’re different. Neither is better or worse.
So smile, hit “like”, say “congratulations,” and don’t let someone else’s blessings rob you of seeing your own.