How often do you feel overwhelmed? How often do you see what others are accomplishing and succumb to a sense of underachievement? How often do you fail to maintain good habits in your life and grow frustrated by not getting them to stick? It’s ridiculously easy to feel inadequate in our society today.
I just did a test. For only five minutes, I scrolled through my facebook feed. Here are a few things I saw:
- 8th grade entrepreneurs making millions of dollars.
- An armless guy beautifully playing the guitar with his feet.
- A friend from high school sitting on a beach looking like a model.
- World class athletes competing in the World Cup final.
- A friend’s exercise update about completing a grueling bicycle ride.
- Another friend’s mention of her cousin starring in an amazing indie film.
- A picture of people breaking a world record in Portland.
- And another friend who just reached 40,304 words in his novel.
No wonder it’s so easy to feel overwhelmed and inadequate all the time! Just 5 minutes! Most of us allow global highlight reels to wash over us for far more than 5 minutes a day. Tweet after tweet. Update after update. Amazing accomplishment after amazing accomplishment. And us? We can’t even remember to take the garbage out on the right night each week or help our kids return their library books on time.
And yet, we know we’re good people. We’re reminded of our own potential each time we see others do something amazing or impressive. We too want to make a difference in the world. So a seed of desire to be better is planted inside us. We want to learn new things and develop our talents. But there’s so much to do. So many things to work on!
As a result, when client projects begin piling up at work, we tell ourselves we need to work on time management. When we look in the mirror or try running to catch a flight, we tell ourselves we need to work on eating better and exercising more. When we attend a conference or dinner party and struggle to find anything interesting to say, we tell ourselves we need to work on communication skills. When we lose our temper with our kids and snap at them because they’re not finishing a few simple chores, we tell ourselves we need to work on controlling our temper. I could go on and on. But you get the idea.
It’s a repeating theme in most of our lives—a theme that touches on almost every single aspect of our lives:
- We recognize a personal shortcoming.
- We desire to improve.
- We identify a specific skill or character trait in need of development.
- We tell ourselves we’ll do better.
But what if we gave ourselves permission to just stop? What if it wasn’t about trying to match up unique areas of skill development with each personal shortcoming at all? What if instead, we were able to focus on just a single skill/characteristic that would literally make everything better?
What if the Answer to Everything, Was Simply to Love More?
Instead of focusing on time management, learning to love our clients more might result in over-delivering the value we promised in an astonishingly timely manner. Instead of focusing on diet and exercise, learning to love ourselves more fully could result in wanting to take better care of ourselves and being more gentle with self-judgments. Instead of focusing on developing communication skills, attempting to truly love those around us—strangers even—could transform conversations at conferences or dinner parties. Instead of focusing on learning about the mechanics of controlling our temper, consistently focusing on how much we treasure and deeply love our children could help us speak to them and teach them with more kindness.
Maybe love really is the answer to everything. Maybe not.
But the test will be worth it.