The only experiences that truly count are the ones we live not the ones we imagine
Posted: November 29, 2010 Filed under: happiness | Tags: experience, happiness, life, Marital Therapy, NC, therapy
I envy you! Why does this expression often meet with apprehension? Envy me?! WHY? (Why would you, really??) The problem with judging other people’s happiness or unhappiness has nothing to do with what the Bible preaches. It actually comes down to this surprising fact: we are often wrong.
The human brain is bombarded everyday with information and the only way it is able to survive such attacks is by organizing and filing into categories and filtering out unnecessary data. A lot of our perceptions belong to an emotion-based filing system (as a lot of our memories do as well). The “happy=good, sad=bad” kind of system. Or vacation in the Bahamas=exciting and losing your job=terrifying, etc. There is one problem with this system. It misses things. It lacks what makes an experience truly worth living: DETAILS.
If I told you that Bahamas=Terrifying you’d probably think I’m out of my mind. We question everything that doesn’t fit in our filing cabinets. But what if I also told you that I’m allergic to the sun? You would probably say “that’s an exception to the rule”. This is because you take your filing system to be the rule. Don’t. Things are almost always NOT what they appear to be. When you judge someone’s experience as good or bad ask yourself “Do I have all the details to his/her experience or is my judgment based largely on my own imagination?”
Before you wallow in envy about your neighbor consider the fact that, most likely, you lack the necessary details to make an accurate judgment about their situation. To take it one step further, do you use your perception of other people’s happiness as the standard of comparison to determine your own happiness (or lack there of)? If yes, why would you base the judgment of your own happiness on such a faulty mechanism? (We all know you compare yourself to others, just admit it already!)
So go ahead, make yourself feel better by saying “my life is not that bad, it could be worse, I could be ___”. Just know, your happiness is based on an imaginary world. And so is your despair. Now, some of you may say “who cares as long as I’m happy?” That’s very true. But I say “thanks, I’ll pass”. The only experiences that truly count are the ones we live not the ones we imagine. So be present for the good AND the bad. Experience is the only thing that’s real.