There are times when I get down on myself, when I feel like I haven’t accomplished enough in my 28 years of life on Earth. I question whether I am making the right decisions, if I couldn’t be doing something else…something better. And when I begin to doubt myself in this way, I feel like throwing everything I have right out the window and starting over from scratch. Nothing would be spared. I’d sell my Stuff and move to some exotic place, leaving behind all of my friends and family.
It would be my rebirth.
I could be anyone I wanted to be, anywhere I decided to settle and spend my time with whomever I chose. I could make new friends and experience a life beyond my imagination. Sometimes I find myself dreaming about the different places I could be…at this very moment. Maybe I’d be running through Central Park or wandering the Great Wall. I think about the type of person I could be. Maybe I’d be a wealthy clothing designer in Milan or a homeless transient wandering through the most beautiful places nature has to offer. I could be this, I could do that, I could be there….but I’m not, thrice.
I dream of all the things I’m not, in the process forgetting all that I am and how good my life actually is. I have a home, copious amounts of food on the table, nice clothes to wear and a girlfriend who shares my passion for travel and puts up with my (many) idiosyncracies. I have everything I could ask for, I know it, and still I have moments when I want more, different, better. I am consumed by thoughts of what I’m not and all that I don’t have.
Life’s forbidden fruits lure my mind into feeling this way, into the feeling that all that I am isn’t good enough. Into the feeling that happiness is “out there.” All the beautiful places calling to me like a siren’s song, the smooth skin and plump lips of a beautiful woman across the room tempting me, the “promise” of a more satisfying life with more money. All these things seductively asking me, “Is your life good enough?” I feel like a child with my face pressed tightly against the display window of a candy store, looking into a world that isn’t mine.
And suddenly my perfect life doesn’t seem so perfect anymore.
As I imagine myself in that other, better life, I try to envision how that life would play out. Would living somewhere else really make me happy? I suppose it’s possible. I am happier today than I was a year ago when I moved away from my hometown. I wonder if a supermodel girlfriend would be any better than the girlfriend I already have. It might be fun for a while but in the long run, I don’t know that things would really be that different. Besides, Erin is beautiful and we get along great with each other. Would new friends make life more interesting? Maybe. The friends I have now are really cool but more friends is never a bad thing.
Then what is the answer to these problems?
This is one of the fundamental issues with self-improvement; where to draw the line and accept the life you already have. To know when good enough actually is good enough. If we’re always seeking improvement in our lives, ultimately we will realize that there is no upper-limit. There will always be more, different and better. And someday we might find that we threw away a perfectly good life in our quest for an even better one.
There must be a point when we say to ourselves, “Yeah, that’s really nice but I’m happy just where I am.”
That point needs to come before we ruin the lives we already have. We should improve our lives but within reason and rationality. There is no reason to destroy a good life in our quest for greatness. Real improvement comes from building from the foundation you’ve already established. Improve the relationships, strengthen the bonds, improve your character, change your life for the better but without casting aside everything you’ve worked so hard for already.
As for that world that isn’t ours? Maybe it isn’t ours for a reason…we just don’t know what the reason is and maybe we aren’t supposed to.