There are a lot of ways a day can go wrong. Sometimes you start out with high hopes, only to find partway through that things just aren’t going as well as you’d hoped. Sometimes you know from the moment you wake up that you’re going to have your hands full. There are any number of different things that can force uncomfortable demands on your day—at least that’s how it seems. But when you really break it down and look at things from an internal perspective, it really comes down to a couple of simple choices that can transform any ordinary day into something either extraordinary… or something to be endured.

If you’ve been with us for a while, the steps themselves won’t come as a particular surprise: the first is expectation. As Dr. Dan Gilbert observed in his wonderful book, Stumbling into Happiness, “Expectations are a happiness killer.” Usually, when I comment on this quote, I mean a false expectation of an idealized experience, which leads us to feel cheated when reality fails to accommodate us. But it’s important to note that it can just as easily go the other way.

For example, you might have plans coming up which you feel sure will be unpleasant, and perhaps have been dreading for a while. But this attitude is really picking your own pocket. Because as we know, the vast majority of our daily experience comes from internal states, not from external circumstances, and there is very little that cannot be pleasant, meaningful, or enjoyable on some level, given an attitude of love in the present moment.

Now, the second thing that will ruin your day is closely related to expectation, but a bit more specific. It is comparison. People have a natural tendency to judge themselves by comparison to other people, and in a million different ways—health, career success, income, free time, social life, romantic life, etc. One way or another, this almost always leads to (false) feelings of either inferiority or superiority. Both of which take us out of both humility and love.

This is because real humility means believing the truth about yourself, and the truth is that we are all in different places. Yes, some of us may be further along in certain areas, and there are certainly lessons we can learn from one another. But people grow and mature at different rates, and for different reasons, and the one thing that comparison will practically never lead to is balance.

Now, this does lead us to a rather glaring question: if we will not assess ourselves relative to others, then how should we do it? We can quibble over terms like “judgement” or “self-acceptance,” but it is true that we need some method by which to decide whether we like where we are in life, and whether we are headed in a good direction. Ultimately, I believe this is one of the major reasons why the great questions of life—about faith and the ultimate meaning and nature of the universe—are so important to pursue. Comparison may be a more convenient way of measuring ourselves, but the image it gives us is inconsistent and biased. If we want to know where we really are, then we cannot avoid asking some big questions about the territory.

Have a blessed, wonderful day!

Dr. Alex Loyd



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