Self-evaluation is one of the most universal habits of success-oriented people. From time to time, especially towards the end of the year or the expiration of some timeline that we have set for our lives, we assess our lives and see how far we have progressed towards achieving our goals and actualising our aspirations.
As good as this practice is, it can easily become an albatross around our necks, especially when we approach it from the wrong perspective. Rather than appreciating how much we have grown and seeing if we need to revise our strategy or simply continue on the path, we measure ourselves against societal expectations and sometimes the perceived achievements of our friends and neighbours – and even our enemies.
It would be cool to be able to tell you that I have never succumbed to this negative side of self-evaluation at any point in my life. But the truth is, I have – and so have you. You know as well as I do where that path leads – sadness, demotivation and gloom. It could even lead to depression when allowed to fester. While the more extroverted temperaments seem to fare better than those of us with introverted and perfectionistic tendencies, depression is a universal malady that will readily latch on to whoever would make room for it. Recently, I learnt of a minister who shot himself dead after offering hope to others. While most people described him as nice and cheerful, those closest to him said he had been battling with depression.Depression is a universal malady that will readily latch on to whoever would make room for it. Click To Tweet
It is no longer uncommon to hear of rising stars, successful professionals and accomplished artistes killing themselves or ending up in rehab. While this can be traced to many factors, one theme that seems to run through all the stories is perspective. Two people examining the same situation from different perspectives will end up with two different outcomes. For example, you can choose to read the letters “Godisnowhere” as “God is nowhere” or “God is now here” depending on your perspective. One perspective smothers faith and leads to depression; the other rekindles hope and helps you fight on to victory.
So, whether you end up sad or happy is not so much about your present reality as it is about your perspective. And nothing resets perspective like gratitude. We can turn our lives around by choosing to be grateful for the things we have instead of whining about the things that we don’t have. I like the way Melody Beattie puts it: “Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today and creates a vision for tomorrow.” With gratitude, we can approach life from a perspective of contentment without being complacent. I came across an interesting story that illustrates this well:Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today and creates a vision for tomorrow.… Click To Tweet
One day a very wealthy man took his son on a journey to a remote village with the intention of showing the lad how poor people live. They spent a few days and nights on the farm of what would be considered a very poor family. When they returned from the trip, the father asked his son, “How was the trip?”
“It was great, Dad.”
“Did you see how poor people live?” the father asked.
“Oh yeah,” said the son.
“So, tell me, what did you learn from the trip?” asked the father.
The son answered: “I saw that we have one dog and they had four.
We have a pool that reaches to the middle of our garden and they have a creek that has no end.
We have imported lanterns in our garden and they have the stars at night. Our patio reaches to the front yard and they have the whole horizon.
We have a small piece of land to live on and they have fields that go beyond our sight. We have servants who serve us, but they serve others. We buy our food, but they grow theirs.
We have walls around our property to protect us, they have friends to protect them.”
The boy’s father was speechless. Then his son added, “Thanks, Dad, for showing me how poor we are.”
Do you see how powerful perspective is? You can imagine the radical change we would experience if we all gave thanks for everything we have, instead of worrying about what we don’t have. We can only be happy to the degree to which we are thankful. And we all have something to be grateful for, even now. Don’t wait until everything is in perfect alignment – that is putting the cart before the horse. It is gratitude – founded on the pillars of faith, hope and love – that actually helps to set things in proper alignment. Without it, stepping stones become stumbling blocks, making it almost impossible to work out the puzzle of life.
Question: What are you grateful for? Share with us in the comments.