You look at other people and even though you only see tiny snippets of their existence, you end up writing a ridiculous story about them. You see your neighbour leave the house to go jogging with her beautiful hair and her nice tight body and because these are things you want, and because you have foolishly assumed that fulfilling those wants will generate happiness, you assume that her life is better than yours.

236 Relax and Succeed - Some pepole are so poorYou notice that she does not have the hassles of parenthood to deal with, and that has helped her attract and keep that rich and successful husband. And of course your very average husband married you, so you assume that is yet another sign of how your life is lacking. Meanwhile the woman in the other house sees you running out to your car in your bathrobe and she longs for your confidence because she cannot imagine such a thing. Even a dash to the car requires thought and work on her appearance. Her husband married her precisely because she looked so good and he expects her to stay that way. And because he was attracted by such shallow things, she has trouble keeping him faithful whereas you feel your relationship is lacking because your husband is so content with how things are.

So she’s not jogging because she has more dedication or ability than you—she jogs because she’s scared. And she wouldn’t even be able to do that without stealing a bit of her nephew’s Ritalin medication. She didn’t develop herself much as you had to, so if her husband left her she would have no real marketable skills and she would really be in serious trouble. So she isn’t with her husband because they’re so tight, she’s with him because she has to be. She would love to be with a guy who wants kids, but he doesn’t and she can’t anyway—which is heart-breaking to her. So when you assume she’s looking at your pathetic life where you’re wrestling with two kids hanging off you because you’re the center of their universe, she’s actually envious. She would trade her hair and her nice ass just to have some kids run to her with needs that she could feel fulfilled taking care of. She wants to be valuable, not beautiful.

236 Relax and Succeed - The grass is greenerSo there she is in her house noticing all of the things you have that she doesn’t, and you’re in your house noticing all of the things that she has that you don’t. It’s crazy. You can’t look at any life and know anything. First off, everyone’s posing to look successful because we put such a huge value on that instead of on the experience of life itself. And yet most of our good stories at parties come from failures, disasters and problems and very few come from easy victories.

The way to like your own life is by paying attention to the aspects of it you value. Do you get how easy that is? There is absolutely no way that you can spend your life watering thorns and then expect to walk on a bed of flowers. If all you do is water the thorns by dumping the energy of your consciousness on what you don’t like, then thorns make perfect sense. If you stand in your window and list perceived deficits in yourself and your life, then you are watering thorns and you should fully anticipate that life will be painful to walk through.

If on the other hand you choose to water the flowers in your life—if you focus on the love of your husband and kids even though it is inconsistent, if you focus on the valuable friendships you share even though those people can’t always be there for you, if you focus on what on the strengths your family built rather than the weaknesses, then your life will always be filled with the fragrance and beauty of many flowers. It simply does not matter where you start, how far you climb, or how much you have. The only thing that matters is what you place your attention on. So a rich person may have 100 valuable cars, but if they only focus on what’s wrong with them, they will be disappointed. And if the poor person has only one old and worn-out car, but they are grateful that it gets them to work despite its condition, then that person is actually the one leading the good life.

All day long you place your attention here or there. All day long your decide this is important and not that. And you use the outside world to dictate to you what those things are. A 236 Relax and Succeed - Gratitude turns what we haveslim figure, money, a nice house or cars, or maybe a handsome mate. But the outside world is simply an idealized, edited, air-brushed presentation of reality. What’s really real are the feelings you experience as your day. And if those feelings are grateful, then you are successful. And if you have all of the money and power in the world but you are not grateful, then you will die having wasted this wonderful opportunity called existence.

You don’t need rich, you need content. You don’t need pretty, you need meaningful. And you don’t need handsome, you need love. So stop trying to improve your life by pulling all the weeds when all you really had to do was water the flowers instead.

Now go start actually paying attention to whatever it is you’re paying attention to. Because the ability to choose what gets your attention is the only ability you will ever really need to succeed.

peace. s

2 thoughts on “The Woman Next Door

  1. Being loved for who you are is a great thing and few of us experience it, but what you’re doing here is replacing one set of aspirations with another and saying one is right and the other is wrong. I won’t go into the profoundly insulting view you have on women – your story places them in a world where they only exist in relation to their husbands and what their husbands allow them to be. Some women jog because it feels good and choose not to have children. That doesn’t make them pitiful or less worthy!

    To be a woman is often to live a life of insecurity. We are not raised with “The sky is the limit!”, we are raised with “No one will marry you if you do this or that!”

    Why assume that happiness can only be found by reproducing? Are there not enough children who need love and a home? There are way too many of us alive right now and the Earth cannot support us all – outside of America, there are wars, famine and disease and multinationals pollute the water and the soil to make more money. Everyone is motivated by thoughts of their children, but no one thinks that it’s very likely that we won’t have a world to leave to our children. We are killing everything that lives around us just so we can multiply.

    And still, getting married and having kids is the biggest achievement in a woman’s life? Why should we be so arrogant to assume that our genes must survive, but the Earth herself can go die?

    So no, I say, no one should seek happiness in making more people that they can serve. Everyone should have the responsibility of putting something back into the world, before taking even more. Adopt a few children if motherhood is your calling, donate to the UNICEF, volunteer, innovate, design for the future. Don’t just rush to hop on the train to genetic immortality. If the only face you can love is that of your own child which reflects your DNA, it’s not nobility or generosity. It’s narcissism.

    Why not walk over to your jogging neighbour and ask her around for coffee, instead of finding a petty comfort in the revelation that you’re actually better off than her?

    1. I honestly cannot relate your comment with what I wrote–the thoughts you are ascribing to me certainly aren’t mine. I would suggest that you read more of my writing. No one who’s familiar with me or my work would suggest that I think anyone is worth more than anyone else. I agree with virtually everything you wrote. My entire message is that we should avoid judgment wherever possible. So I’ll chalk this up to a simple misunderstanding. Thank you for your comment though. It’s nice to see someone with such a big heart being such an active citizen.

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