The book “Everything I needed to know I learned in kindergarten” had some good thoughts, but I’d say to go back even further. You want to be happier and less stressed? Take a lesson from preschool.
My daughter has three children, and when the two youngest were in preschool, they were always concerned what their older sibling was eating or doing or watching. If Emilia got 1.5 hot dogs and Calum only got one, tears would flow. It wouldn’t matter that 14 seconds earlier he had declared he couldn’t eat another bite. If Eva got to stay up past 9 p.m., Emilia was ready to protest to the United Nations because she had to go to bed at 8. The fact that she had to be at her summer camp in the morning and Eva had nothing scheduled was irrelevant. Call the ambassador!
Their mother had a simple answer to all of these complaints.
Worry about yourself!
“Eva ate four cookies and I only had three!”
“Are you starving? Did you get enough to eat today? Worry about yourself!”
“Emilia got to spend the night at Grandma’s house three times already this year and I didn’t get to go once!”
“Did I take Emilia to Lego Con or did I take you? Worry about yourself!”
If your life is good, then it’s good. Full stop
Recently, (I’m not saying when, to protect the guilty), I was listening to someone complain that YouTubers make so much money and they don’t need any education or special skills. I said,
I so often hear people complaining, not because their life is bad but because they IMAGINE someone else’s life is better. Maybe Bob does make more money than you. He also may have cancer, his kids hate him and his wife just left him for the pool boy. Felicia might drive a Lamborghini and you’re stuck with your old Toyota, but she also works 90 hours a week and has a $54,000 credit card debt.
If you really want that Lambo and want to work for it, knock yourself out. Ask yourself, though, is that what you really want? If not, what the hell do you care if someone else has one and you don’t, whether she earned it through brain surgery or got it by doing the local dealer?
The Story of My Life in 100 Words
I was looking at my various retirement funds lately, and I have several, each from a different employer where I could have worked 20+ years and retired. Every time, after two to five years, I left. Sometimes I left for a better job. Other times, it was for a completely different job, for example, I went from being an engineer to a professor to a business owner to a statistician to a consultant to founding another business to founding a non-profit. At various times, I lived in San Diego, California, Minot, North Dakota, Santiago, Chile, Los Angeles, California, St.Louis, Missouri, Minneapolis, Minnesota, Jamestown North Dakota, Riverside, California, Tokyo, Japan. That’s not all and not in order.
If I had stayed at any of those jobs, I might have had more money than I do right now. On the other hand, maybe not (probably not as a professor, but who knows? Maybe I would have a written a best-selling statistics textbook). I spent the afternoon in the pool with two children and grandchildren, then came home and gave a lecture on biostatistics. I like my family, my work. I like my life.
If you can say the same, why do you worry about whether Bob next door is married to Fred, if Eloise got paid $10,000 for a painting of her nose hairs or Harry got voted Kickboxer of the Year? You haven’t been to a kickboxing class in 10 years, for God’s sake!