One of my favourite things about life right now is that I know exactly what I want from it: I want to have a happy family, be a nice person and serve the world by helping people find their best selves and be their best selves.
But with these ambitions comes a nagging feeling every compulsive striver/over-achieving type will have experienced. The feeling of really? That’s it? There’s so much to be achieved and this is what you’ve settled on?
It is of course made worse by seeing other people achieve huge things: curing cancer, starting charities, winning big business awards etc because they tend to bring an attack of the ‘shoulds’.
- Should I be doing more?
- Should I be striving for more?
So it’s with great relief that I saw this article last week celebrating The Small, Happy Life. This passage particularly hit the mark:
“Now my purpose is simply to be the person … who can pick up the phone and give you 30 minutes in your time of crisis. I can give it to you today and again in a few days. … I can edit your letter. … I can listen to you complain about your co-worker. … I can look you in the eye and give you a few dollars in the parking lot. I am not upset if you cry. I am no longer drowning, so I can help keep you afloat with a little boost. Not all of the time, but every once in a while, until you find other people to help or a different way to swim. It is no skin off my back; it is easy for me.”
Since I’ve experienced that drowning feeling I know exactly how big an achievement it is to not be drowning. I know exactly how much work it takes. And I know exactly how valuable it is to every person I come across in the course of a day for me to be ‘not drowning’.
So I will remember this the next time I catch myself wondering whether I should be doing more. And I hope you will too.