Turn Envy Upside Down
If I have to hear my family say that I should do what Sarah did one more time, I swear...well, I might swear. Sarah is a good friend of mine and a wonderful person to emulate, and I honestly don’t have any ill feelings toward her whatsoever. She had a good idea, she told our family about it, and they thought it was a good idea, too. Great, right? Well, the annoying part is that if I would have had the idea in the first place, they wouldn’t have thought it was so great.
The idea, if you’re curious, was to split up the house cleaning chores among family members so we would all agree on who does what and make a chart of the chores. Sarah’s family and my family had the same cleaning lady who recently had to take some time off. Instead of trying to find another cleaner who would most certainly not meet the expectations set by Miss Sherri (as my kids call her), we decided to try it ourselves for a while.
We did split up the chores, and after I printed out a nice little chart, I presented it to my family angrily, “Here’s your chart -JUST LIKE SARAH'S!” It got me thinking, though...this could be a stroke of genius...what if Sarah and I colluded and had each other tell the other’s family our “ideas?” Would we both suddenly get what we want? Or is it possible that Sarah’s family wouldn’t hold me in such high esteem, and she’d still have trouble convincing her family? Or does Sarah have a magic ability as a wife and mother that I don’t possess, and her family already thinks her ideas are amazing even when they come straight from her mouth??
The best part of this whole thing is that, not long ago, I was listening to the “Happier With Gretchen Rubin” podcast episode where Liz and Gretchen talked about how to use envy to our benefit. The gist of it is that you should think about who you envy, really ponder why you envy them, and then figure out how to get some of that in your life. I didn’t have to think too long before it hit me like a lightening bolt - it was Sarah that I envied and specifically her time. I envied the time Sarah had from a semi-flexible work schedule, the time she spent doing activities with her kids, the way she spent her time doing things she enjoyed, and the way she didn’t seem rushed even though she was busy. It would be interesting to hear if Sarah feels the same about her time, but it was how it I perceived it, which, as we all know, made it my reality. I brainstormed and thought about ways I could have more time, spend my time better, be present in the things I’m doing. I came up with some hair-brained ideas, sifted through them, picked out a few that seemed doable and implemented them. I had to give myself permission to give up some things, throw away the worry of others’ perceptions, and become more self-disciplined in some areas. It’s been a few weeks, and I am amazed at how much happier I am!
So, in the end, I guess Sarah’s fantastic ideas are just one more thing I envy, but I made it work for me by teaching my 11 year old to clean toilets and my 6 year old to dust!
Photo by JESHOOTS.COM on Unsplash
Photo by Emma Matthews on Unsplash
2/13/2018 02:08:47 pm
What a great way to change your attitude toward others. It becomes less about them and their life, and more about you and your life...which is something you can do something about. Great article, Claire.
2/18/2018 09:58:51 pm
Glad you liked it. Yes, this was great advice from the Happier Podcast! If I've learned anything, it's that you can't change anything or anyone but yourself and how you think about things.
2/14/2018 02:13:08 pm
This whole time I was reading this I was thinking about my dad. I remember as a kid he used to give us these jobs to do that seemed ridiculously hard for a kid. Unfortunately it usually ended up with me crying and him yelling but the results were mostly the same each time. You see most the time I would cry because I didn’t know how to do what he was asking me to do. And he would yell because he would say “you just figure it out and do it. You waste more time by worrying. If you would just not worry about it, figure it out and get it done you’d be done by now!” I think that was one of the hardest lessons to learn but maybe one of the best. I still worry but mostly about things that are out of my control. But when faced with a task, or rather, many tasks piled up, I don’t worry... I just do (get to it). Did you know that my dad taught me how to ride a bike by my hair?? I had long hair (always have) and he put it in a pony tail and told me to sit on my bike. Then he grabbed me by the ponytail and told me to start pedaling. Of course I cried cuz I was scared but more so because I didn’t know how to ride a bike without training wheels. But there was no arguing... so I started pedaling and he ran along side me holding on tight to my ponytail. After a few minutes he said “I’m gonna get ready to let go”. Of course I protested because I was sure if he let go I’d crash!!! But in that moment he said “you will... but right now I want you to keep pedaling, don’t look down and when you think you’re going to crash... head for a soft place to land.” I know this story I shared doesn’t have anything to do with envy but I don’t have super powers and I don’t always have really good ideas... I’m not the best mom or wife... even if my kids and husband would argue (they’re liars). I just try not to look down and when I feel like I’m going to crash... I still look for those soft spots to land.
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