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  • Susie Csorsz Brown

Eyes on your own yard

You can’t reach your goals when you’re jealous or comparing yourself to others.

I read this somewhere. And you know, it's valid. When you're focusing on what others are accomplishing, or looking at what someone else has done or has or gets, then you don't see what you have yourself. The grass is always greener, and all that, right?

How does one stop gazing with longing across the proverbial fence line, and focus on what you have in hand? How do you stop thinking about what others have, and focus on what you've accomplished? Or what you'd like to accomplish?

A couple of thoughts:

When was the last time you wrote a thank you note to someone? It's probably been a while since you sat down and put some serious thought into saying what it meant to you when someone else did something for you. It doesn't have to be prose, but taking the time to put into words what xyz meant to you helps you to focus on what it is you appreciate, and how good it feels to think those positive thoughts about someone else. You know what? It might even inspire you to do something big (or little) for someone else. And it's not about getting a thank you, or receiving praise. Doing something nice for someone else feeds a part of your mental being that thrives on doing good for other people. If this is not an action that comes naturally to you, the more you do it, the easier it will be. Giving is not actually an act that comes naturally to all people; like all skills, it becomes easier the more we practice it.

Do you know how great you have it? Do you know how amazing your life/family/job/friends are? Maybe not. A good way to realize just how awesome you have it is to walk in someone else's shoes for a while. No, I am not saying you should run away from your family and job and live on a deserted island. What I am suggesting is that befriending those who might not have as many fortunes as you do would help you to get a clearer picture of what it might be like if things were a little different. Okay, not exactly, as you would not be forgoing your situation, but talking with those with those in different circumstances than your own help you to realize how great your own situation might be. See things in a different light.

When you hear negative comments (or have negative thoughts), a sure way to retrain your mind (and practice being pollyanna-ish) is to reframe the negative and focus on something positive in the same situation. It doesn't have to come across as fake; find things you genuinely like about the situation. It can be as small as liking the color of blinds in the conference room you are stuck in for the hour-long droning meeting, or the admiring the rings on the hands of the sole checker in the 6-person deep queue at the grocery store.

Say something nice to someone. Again, it can be something small (someone got new glasses!), or something big (what a great motivating speech, Mr Supervisor. I really feel enthused about my task!). It should be sincere, because this is a real compliment to someone. This is one of my favorite things to do, especially to someone I might not know very well. Why? Hearing a nice comment from someone you don't know well can be a real boon; in fact, one often will heed a comment from one they don't know more so than they might a comment from a friend. A positive thought can be what it takes to for one to refocus, and reframe. Isn't it lovely to think you might be party to that?

Bad stuff happens. It does, it can't be helped. But bad stuff happening gives opportunities to learn. When this does happen, ask yourself: what can I learn from this? What can I do differently? What can I change so that this doesn't happen again? Teachable moments, right, they really are all around us. It's up to you to make your most of them.

Finally, try really hard not to complain or criticize for 10 days. It takes a lot of energy to focus on the negative and make comments. Couldn't you use that energy for positive instead? I bet, if you really tried, you could refrain from negative comments. When you do, you are again focusing on the positive aspects. The more you practice seeing that, the more you focus on the glass being half full, the more likely you will be to see that. You're creating a new habit, a positive one. In the end, you ability to see the positive will be stronger than not, and you will indeed naturally have more gratitude and a positive attitude.

We can talk more about goal setting and achievement at some other point. But suffice it to say, if you are happy with what is going on in your own yard, you'll be much less likely to be gazing longingly at your neighbor's, and much more apt to succeed with what it is you want to be achieving. It takes a lot of energy to covet; refocus that waste of energy on something positive for yourself.

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