Sunday, October 2, 2016

Get Over Yourself

And Be Happier For It

I think I am basically a happy person. And by happy, I mean I feel good about and enjoy my life, I don’t covet anything, and my days are not filled with discontent. I’m not wildly ecstatic or giddy or smiley all the time, far from it. I have my ups and downs like most people do, but generally, I feel happy with the quality of my life and I feel that way most of the time.

And here is the key to this happiness: Getting over myself.

Sure we can all improve our circumstances, but the happiest people I know are over themselves. And the more someone is over themselves the happier they seem to be. They might not accomplish as much as striving competitive ambitious people, or people who consider themselves specially destined for greatness, but they definitely seem happier. It’s certainly been true for me.

Contrary to the American Dream, I don't think that success makes people happy or helps them get over themselves. I know some happy people who are also successful, but I don’t know anyone who’s happy and successful whose happiness is based on their success. The happiest people I know, whether they’re successful or not are over themselves.

I'm not saying don't succeed, by all means do, but in my experience, the thing that helps people get over themselves the most is failure, facing death, and the experience of limitation.

When I’ve really been humbled, then at least I have the opportunity to get over myself and just be a person doing what I love as much of the time as I can, and rolling with the rest. I don’t look down on other people or consider myself inherently better or worse than anyone else, and I’m happier for it.

For me failure is the best teacher of this. But the funny thing is, I can't fail unless I try, so I have to try and, you know, "Follow my dreams." and all that, but as I see it, it's not the dream coming true that will make me happy, it's what I might learn if I fall short.

The flip side is also true. I can wallow in failure, martyrdom and self-pity, and I need to get over myself when I do that as well, at least I do if I want to be happy. Striving and wallowing may be necessary at some points in every life, and it may be a given person's nature to strive or wallow, but I don't associate either of them with happiness because they both hold a person apart in some "special" zone instead of in the soup with the rest of humanity.

What makes me happy is to get over myself, the idea that I am “special”, extraordinary, gifted, and deserving of some special destiny, and instead realize that I am an ordinary person, part of a huge evolving Universe, lucky to be here at all, doing my work and playing my part, no better or worse than anyone else. And the only thing that really teaches me this is failure, missing the mark, limitation, and death. If I had been more successful when I was younger, and by successful I mean had more worldly acceptance and appreciation of my work, I doubt if I would be as over myself, and as happy, as I am now. It was failure that forced me to recognize my humanity and my essential ordinariness.

So I say: Go for it. Follow your dreams. Reach for the stars. And keep reaching until you fail. That’s where the gold is. Once you fail and get over yourself, you can just do it for love and be happy you’re doing it at all.

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