“If a candle is used to light another, the flame of the first does not somehow give off less light.”
Like my face in the picture above, I used to be bitter about the success of others. Outwardly, I would do my best to smile and congratulate, but on the inside I was chastising myself for not having the same success. I would make excuses, or find reasons to discredit others, as if that would justify the choices I was making. Clearly, that is ridiculous.
Success is not a finite resource as some would claim. This sentiment is perpetuated for two reasons. First, this belief is a seductive and convenient justification for complacency in the form of blame. For example,”They were lucky” or “They cheated.” Second, its handy for creating animosity between economic groups, as if the wealth of one group was taken from the other. The prosperity of one does not diminish the chances of another to have the same. However, blaming others for our circumstances is much easier than taking responsibility for our choices and habits and ultimately, our resulting lifestyle.
I used to believe those things too. I was full of self pity, a “whoa is me” attitude. Eventually, I got tired of never having the result I wanted in life and decided that it didn’t matter how good my excuse was, I could either make it happen or accept my situation. When I decided to take responsibility for my situation instead of blaming factors out of my control, success of others didn’t bother me anymore. I began to recognize that those individuals had made the same choice: Life isn’t fair, but screw my circumstances, I am going to be so good at what I do that I can’t fail and I will struggle to improve until I get there.
What I used to see as my competition was no longer a threat. Seeing others succeed actually began to motivate and inspire me. The more I cheered for them, the more I helped, the more my passion grew and the better my life became. During these years of transition I’ve learned so many things, but arguably the most important one is this: THE MORE YOU HELP OTHERS, THE BETTER YOUR LIFE BECOMES.
When we lift those around us, even those in what seem like direct competition, we lift ourselves. Not only does the genuine praise of others lift spirits and confidence of the ones we cheer for, but the collective spirit of the community rises. At the same time, your attitude improves, your bond with your community strengthens and because of this, the energy comes full circle to boost your confidence. In a time where the biggest difference between success and failure is belief that you can, having confidence and support is paramount to “making it!” Nick Offerman said it in one of the most beautifully simple ways when he said, “I’ve crunched the numbers, it is better to have 6 people with 1 beer each, than 1 guy with 6 beers.”
PHOTO: Blake Eiermann