Theodore Roosevelt can be quoted saying “Comparison is the thief of joy.” I think of this quote often for many reasons. I find myself particularly drawn to this quote as we begin 2022. In January of 2020 I was vacationing in Naples, Florida. I came home from Naples and went back to work—vacation over. The news of the Coronavirus was breaking and in March of this same year I went home from my office for what I thought would be something like two weeks. On March 16th, 2020 I worked my last day in my office in the way I had known working in my profession for the past 15 or so years. Little did I know at the time this was the beginning of discovering new ways of working and being in the world. Here we are in January of 2022 and I’ve worked from my home office, for all intents and purposes, for the past two years (with the exception of a small period of time where I resumed in person work over the summer months when the virus was at a low infection rate). Like many others, I spent most of 2020/2021 in isolation and practicing strict social distancing. Not only did I work remotely, I opted only to see a few people socially inside of my “Covid circle.” I did not get to see my family in person for over a year. I have friends I still have not been able to connect with for one reason or another. Like many others, my life has changed in so many ways and here we are going into another year.
Many people I speak with regularly make statements to me about the pandemic such as “when things get back to normal” or “when life goes back to being like it was.” This, my friends, is the root of some serious suffering. Comparing life as it is today to what it was just a few years ago, or at any other time across the lifespan, is where suffering enters and robs us of the ability to be in a state of joy in this very moment. None of us can know what the future will bring or when we will finally reach an endemic as it relates to Covid. Yet, it occurs to me this is such a metaphor for how our culture functions on a regular basis.
Too often people are awaiting the moment when the goal is finally realized to “be happy.” Whether it’s a new car, or career, running a marathon, a relationship, starting a family, or, or, or…..NOW is the time to find joy! It turns out the ever elusive sense of happiness attached to our goals is a total let down. From a brain science perspective, the state of joy or happiness attached to a goal or outcome is fleeting at best. The first moment we are exposed to the stimuli we’ve been chasing on our quest for happiness lasts but a moment. After the initial win of the conquest is over…. the goal, the “thing,” can NEVER produce that same feeling of being elated in the same way. It’s just not how the human brain works. Bummer?...maybe….or maybe it’s an invitation to change the way we think about joy and gratitude in our daily lives right this very second.
It’s my personal belief that human beings are being invited to make some signficant changes in the way we think about our lives and approach both our individual and collective worlds. Believe me when I tell you that if you can’t find joy in this very moment it’s not waiting for you on the other side of your goals or this pandemic. Joy is here right now. It’s calling to each of us. It beckons our attention in the song of a bird, the snow day, the moment we wake and have been granted another day. Look around you and allow yourself to be amazed by what is going right in your life right now. Truly, the more we notice what is going well in our lives the more wellness we attract. If you want love in your life—be love, be in love with yourself. If you want a new job—be in relationship with the gratitude you have for the ability to job search. Choose a mindset of love and gratitude over fear. Decide to change your mind and allow yourself to be amazed by the magic that begins to happen in your world. When things change inside of you, you will be amazed by what changes around you and in your world.