“Enjoy your own life without comparing it with that of another.” -Marquis de Condorcet
Last Saturday I decided to take a mid-day bath, just because I felt like it. I’d been working from home (since Monday starts my “weekend”) and I felt like I needed to take a break and recharge.
Not two minutes into my relaxing soak, I heard loud fiesta music coming from somewhere outside.
There’s a little park close to my apartment, and families frequently reserve the space for birthday parties, complete with barbecues and blow-up bouncy houses.
Whenever I walk by one of these events, I feel tempted to pretend I’m part of the group and inappropriately thrust my inner child into the pile of jumping kids.
But of course I don’t. I just reminisce about my favorite childhood memories and fantasize about all the multi-generational functions I’ll attend when, one day, I too have kids.
Anyways, as I was lying in the tub on Saturday, listening to the loud, happy music outside, I found myself thinking, “They’re probably having way more fun that I am right now. I should be outside, dancing, socializing—not lying alone in a steamy room.”
What usually feels like a sanctuary and a gift suddenly felt inadequate in comparison to someone else’s experience.
But then it occurred to me: At least one person out in that park could very well have been thinking, “I’m tired. It’s been a long week. I really need some ‘me’ time. I should be soaking in a warm bath right now!”
I realized then, or perhaps remembered, that dissatisfaction is often the result of assuming something else is better.
It’s a consequence of comparing our present experience to something else we assume is more interesting, engaging, meaningful, fun—or flat-out more worthy of our time.
Nothing is more worthy of our time than the joy right in front of us, because in any given moment, that is where we have the opportunity to fully experience life. Not where someone else is, not where we suspect we should be, but right where we are.
I pulled out the rubber ducky last Saturday; I wasn’t alone after all. And I listened to the joyful music while I silently appreciated the opportunity to just be. It was a worthy choice.
Most choices feel that way when we consciously choose to let ourselves enjoy them.
Photo by Akuppa