It is an interesting phenomenon that we look at others, who seem to have it all, or have it "all together," we think their lives are perfect, they are flawless and they don’t have any problems. It is such a natural tendency to assume that we are the only ones who are deficient in talents or consumed with worry. Even though the grass is always greener on the other side, one of life’s great lessons is that everyone is here to grow, overcome, achieve, and triumph.
Even throughout the best of childhoods/adolescences, it is a struggle to find ourselves and to discover our purposes. There are many avenues we can pursue in trying to do so. Some people figure out at an early age the things they enjoy or that come easily to them, while others have a deeper search ahead. They experiment with arts & sciences, sports, activities, reading, writing, and so on, until they begin to recognize their interests and proclivities. Growing pains are an integral part of youth, and, unfortunately, once we reach maturity, they don’t just magically disappear. Our journeys lead us through the long process of self-discovery and lifelong-learning.
While there are many factors that facilitate happiness, there seem to be two qualities that successful and fulfilled people possess. 1) Gratitude: Happy and accomplished people have an ability to focus on the good they see in their lives and in the world around them. Although they have disappointments, setbacks, losses, and sufferings just like everyone else, they have mastered the technique of redirecting their thoughts from the negative to the positive. Often, it is as simple as writing a daily gratitude log or journal. They record (during the day or at night) their awareness of moments/events for which they were thankful. As they reread their notes, they recognize benefits and blessings. This allows them to feel gratefulness throughout their routines and within their surroundings.
2) Selflessness: They also have learned to develop a flair for kindness and service. It isn’t that they never feel cranky or discouraged, but they have been able to acquire the skill of looking beyond themselves in an effort to observe the needs of others. Maybe they just offer a smile to the busy passer-by or an encouraging word to their frustrated co-worker. Or they look for possible ways to carve out additional time for families and friends. Often, they are the first ones to volunteer for a church fundraiser or community service project.
Psychology Today reported that, “While the brain is remarkably complex, the neurochemical drivers of happiness are quite easy to identify. Dopamine, serotonin, and oxytocin make up the Happiness Trifecta. Any activity that increases the production of these neurochemicals will cause a boost in mood. It’s really that simple. Since humans are social animals, it is no surprise that we are wired to help one another. In our complex modern society, there are many ways to give, and the good news is that we now understand that both the giver and receiver benefit from the relationship.” (Posted April, 2014, Eva Ritvo, M.D.)
In my book, Heaven Heals (By Understanding Abraham’s Covenant), religious volunteers discovered that service “builds confidence and self-worth, as they experience the love God has for everyone, and it brings true gratitude and peace into the lives of both those that serve and those that are the recipients of the service.” Looking for ways to help people is an effective way to demonstrate concern, develop love for others, and get those catecholamines/endorphins flowing!
So, the next time you see that successful achiever, ideal family, or delightful individual, just remember they had to grow (and are still growing) into themselves. Similarly, someone may be looking at you and thinking how very perfect you seem to be.