Chapter 17 Don’t Compare Yourself with Anyone except…Yourself

Bertrand Russell, the great American writer, showed how futile it is to compare.  He wrote about how even great conquerors like Napolean Bonaparte felt bad because he compared himself to Julius Caesar and felt inferior.  Julius Caesar compared himself to Alexander the Great and had portraits and felt less as a result.  And Alexander the Great himself was known to envy the greatness of Hercules, who didn’t even exist and was a god.  No matter who you are, the false thinking of comparing oneself to others is a path towards misery.  

 

And that is the main focus and intent of society…to make you compare yourself with others.  I read about yesterday how a beautiful actress named Courtney Cox is so sad because of her fading looking.  She joked how she does not keep any more mirrors around the house.  Another actress named Michelle Pfieffer described her growing loss of looks as a “mourning period”.  And yet another actress Julia Roberts, in an interview, said “Fu*k, is this what I have to look forward to?” when asked about growing older.  She said she fondly recalled her face five years old.  Faith Hill, a beautiful country singer, was enraged after having lost a vote contest with a much younger Carrie Underwood.  She said in interviews admiring the beauty of youth, “Gosh they are pretty.”

 

It is all just so painful for me to see these “fading” beauties reflect sadly upon their lives and being unable to accept “what is”.  They are not actually getting ugly, merely, their faces are changing…  It is their comparing themselves with younger women which are driving them into sadness, gloom, and depression.  In nature, Flowers wilt, and beautiful animals grow old and their ‘beauty fades” (in the context of human nature which prizes the appearances of the young).

 

If you start comparing, you’ll begin to fight with yourself, with others, you’ll start to struggle, you’ll stop enjoying the present moment.  I cannot stress this enough that the present moment is all that you have, and is all that is ever reality.  I read a journal in a physics textbook which noted this as well.  I vaguely recall two inverted “cones” and their points touching.  It described how the present moment is that intersecting point, and is “reality”.  Anything outside of it, the past and future, are only thought constructs, and do not exist except in your mind.

If you cannot live in the present moment, you will always be disjointed, incomplete, unhappy.  Of that I can assure you as much as I can that an actor named Sylvestor Stallone’s best movie ever will remain Rocky I.  Life does not have to be some scarce thing.  If someone else has it, you don’t have to take it away from him.  Both of you can be equally happy.  It just depends on what you want for yourself.  Happiness can be a collective thing for all who have the right state of mind.  Everyone can be happy, and if you yourself are happy, then you enhance your happiness to those around you.  In other words, if you are happy, then just by smiling and showing your positive energy, you make the person next to you happy.  And then that person makes the other person next to them happy.  And the happiness just expands and grows outward, and created like a positive energy balloon. 

 

By just being happy, you are adding so much to the universe.  You are making positive vibes and positive waves that are hurtling outward, and this will build upon itself and create so much good that you cannot even imagine.  There are Zen stories of how a smile that you simply make can result in a great work being done halfway around the world.  Suppose someone is having a bad day and is planning on doing something, anything foolish.  Now suppose that one little smile of yours brightens their day, and makes them stop what they are doing and change course.  Think of all the negative things that could have echoed through time and distance that you yourself stopped with one little gracious smile. 

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About youngkim3000

I grew up in Virginia and went to a top tier high school, being so ambitious and wanting fame and fortune like the next kid. I received good grades and then I went off to the University of Chicago where I majored in Psychology and Economics. After a brief but successful "Wall Street" career, I realized that I was not happy and left thinking that a career in the medical field would satisfy me. Then, I did some post Bac work at Northwestern and UIC, and then ended up at UIC Medical School. The problem was I was not happy there either. The structure, the repetition, and lack of being able to be free and spontaneously creative really knocked me down. Having to be subject to constant subjective evaluations sucked my soul dry. As I sought another chapter in my life, then came the financial collapse of 2008-9 which destroyed the "nest egg" and saving that I had worked so hard to build after college--which I so "identified with". I was so depressed at the loss of career and the loss of money that I fell into self pity and a deep seated depression. For weeks on end, I could not even get out of bed. I went to many doctors who could not really help me. I took so much anti-depressant medication and also self medicated with alcohol to dull my mind. One day though, I went to the public library in Niles, IL, and picked up some books on "Self-Help". I figured what do I have to lose? I was already so depressed I could barely get through a day. I picked up books by Wayne Dyer (Change Your Thoughts, Change Your Life), Deepak Chopra, Louis Hay, Ram Dass, Osho, and Eckhart Tolle (A New Earth), The Dalai Lama, and revisited my faith in Catholicism. I devoured so many books to unearth just why I was suffering so much. I learned so much about myself and realized that my deep suffering was actually a gift for me to discover myself. Simply put, those words in those books saved my life. I was taking so many drugs and my physical health was in serious jeopardy. I realized that I could not live with myself any longer, and I needed to be free. I realized...that it was my own thoughts that were making me so depressed, as was my own "life story" that I replayed over and over. I realized that my mind was busy creating negative thoughts. Thoughts are "things" and expand. I understood that you do not "normally" choose your thoughts. Just like the digestion of a meal, the mind automatically creates all kinds of thoughts whether you like it or not. Just like you do not "choose" to breathe with your lungs or "choose" to make urine from your kidneys, you "normally" do not "choose" your own thoughts. They just happen, just like digestion. And if you had a bad experience, your mind recreates the negative thoughts without your conscious consent but you are forced to relive them endless times per day. It is only through CONSCIOUS INTERVENTION that you can make your mind change course from recycling negative thoughts. This is just like your breathing. You breathe automatically, but you CAN choose to influence your breathing, you can hold your breath if you are going to dive deep in the water, or you can consciously "slow down" your breath if you are relaxing in meditation and prayer. Once I realized I did in fact have an ability to control my thoughts, I consciously redirected the thoughts to positive uplifting notions. I noted that I had built such a large ego that the collapse of it dragged me down in catastrophic fashion. A big ego is different from self esteem. Both were destroyed, but I learned to regain self esteem through positive affirmations and knowing that the negative thoughts are not reality. I was choosing definitively to live in the past via my repetitive thoughts. I was also choosing to live in an uncertain future that I painted with dreadful possibilities. I realized that if I live in the "now", the present moment, I really did not have any reason to be depressed at all. I discovered I really only live in the "now". The past and future are fictions. It is akin to a motorboat on the water on a lake. The "wake" that the boat produces is the past, my vision of the future is what I can see in front of me, but I really only exist ON the boat in the present moment. I was living my life only on the "wake" created many meters before. Soon, my self-pity slowly subsided as I learned to accept "what is" and not grasp for anything and everything that is valued by Society. I concurred that it was my own "expectations" not realized that were causing such waves of discontent. Once I dropped my self imposed sad "life story", my yesterdays, I came to my senses that there was no need to feel upset at all. That realization hit me like "a ton of bricks" and quickly lifted me out of the well, like a rope thrown down the dark walls of the deep well. I would like to share that it was only that single moment of enlightenment, a "satori" event that forever changed my life, but that was not so. It was a gradual climb out of the abyss (over about a year). I realized that my mind was like a superhighway of blazing thoughts that went through my mind over and over based on the recent past. While my "life story" was going great, I believed in those thoughts, and my ego grew such that I became arrogant and sometimes unkind. Then when my "life story" changed for the worse, I similarly believed in those new negative thoughts with the same passion (which hurt me so deeply throughout my waking hours). I noted to myself that this was why I craved so many "tranquilizers" and medicines that would halt my thoughts. I realized that I was drowning in my negative thoughts and that I was CHOOSING to believe in them. But I learned through focusing on positive affirmations, meditation and prayer, I did not need any more drugs to "halt" my mind from stabbing me to death. Through the filter of society's measure I had evaluated my own life, unable to fully realize that it was all a fiction that my mind had created. I was completely unable to live in the present before this profound awakening. My life had turned into a constant "replay" of the past, the anxiety of the uncertain future...and my destroyed ego. Because of my belief that my thoughts were the ultimate truth, I suffered so deeply... but needlessly. Once I changed the direction of my thoughts, everything changed. The way I looked at my own life changed. I realized that LIFE is not a long emergency where the one with the most toys at the end wins. I realized LIFE is something to be lived fully, and joyfully...not some series of problems to be solved. Once I realized these insights, I realized that I was the creation of my own depression. Although a devout Catholic, I am also deeply moved by the ideals of Buddhism. About Karma and "Dependent Arising"...both of which are also in the Bible (Galations 6, Do not be deceived, God will not be mocked, a person always reaps what they sow). And I was...for the better part of my life, a runaway train into disaster that I was blind to...that I had planted the seeds onto. Putting money, fame, accolades, trophies, and so forth as the ultimate end to my goals sowed the seeds of psychological calamity when the inevitable tides of change occurs in every life. A person who extols those superficial qualities dooms himself/herself to disaster. The only variable is "time". Would it take a long time to find yourself in a train wreck or a short time? It doesn't matter. What matters is how soon can you realize the truth of existence and your place in it...and rise above what Society tries to focus you to believe. Society always makes you compare yourself to others, Society never leaves you alone to just be yourself. You have to exert effort and unlearn what Society has poisoned you with. I am now doing various "work" (not holding down any soul sucking corporate job), teaching, making money through various income sources like buying items at rummage sales and reselling them through Craigslist, asking neighbors and doing work they need, trading stock options when my financial tools indicate that there is a good trade. I am not focused on any "ladder to climb" or any "prestigious career"...and I am so much happier and at peace. I'd rather be "waterboarded" that go back to Corporate America. I have also a solid equanimity, and i am OK with whatever happens, and thus accept what God and the Universe wish for me. I wish to share my newly found wisdom and hope that my story and my interpretation of my newly found contentment can benefit others and I also wish to hear similar stories of awakening. God Bless, thanks for reading my "profile" and leave me your stories of awakening. Outside somewhere is a field where all of us are the same, I cannot wait to see you there...Namaste...
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