• Jason McCarty

Looking in the Mirror




What if you are already living the life you’ve dreamed of? What if you are already the person you most admire? What if you were able to observe your whole life from the outside and you ended up being quite pleased? What if, when you compare yourself to all those “other people”, you could see yourself as someone else and think, “I really like that person. I like how they….” I’m not talking perfection but that you would actually dig who you are at the core. Not in a conceited way but in a more calm and accepting way.

We often judge ourselves the most harshly and compare ourselves to everyone we think is better. We do this from the inside. We can only get so much perspective on our own lives so should we be relying on that completely? Now, some people really do have things they want to change about their lives, things that are obviously hurting them or their loved ones, but this essay is not for that situation per se, but for the part of us that is never happy. This essay is for those of us that continue to strive and think the grass is greener somewhere else. Sometimes we don’t realize we have grass and others don’t. Sometimes we don’t remember the times when we didn’t have grass. We always want a bigger lawn. We are always wanting.

Whether it is a better job, more money, a better relationship, a bigger house, a different city, it can often feel like we will never arrive. It can feel like we might never experience contentment. What I am describing is not anything new. We have been hearing the great thinkers tells us for centuries that all that stuff doesn’t make us “happy.” In an age where stress is dominant and we are striving more than ever it seems, religions like Buddhism are popular. Practices like Yoga are popular. Why? Because they advocate the moment, the here and now. It is really hard to be here and now, present to your life, but obviously people need that perspective in their lives.

What strikes me though, is that many people actualize their dreams. Whether it is a certain job, having a family, or finding success in an endeavor they have dreamed of doing, many actually get there. What happens when we get there? We aren’t always happy! Why is this? We don’t know how to notice the present – we only know how to keep looking to the future we only know how to want. So I’ll ask the first question again. What if you are already living the life you’ve dreamed of? I understand that once we reach certain goals we don’t just pack it in and say, “well, now I’ve arrived and don’t need any more dreams/goals/aspirations!” These are essential to living the human life. But what if in your everyday stress to continue striving you have totally missed that your life is awesome. What if you have missed that you have the relationship you’ve always wanted even though that person isn’t perfect. What if you have missed that your children are beautiful and hilarious? What if you have missed that you have a career you had often dreamed of in the past? Slow down, look around. Look at what you’ve accomplished! Is there still room for growth and evolution? Sure there is, but that doesn’t mean we can’t be present with our lives, feel contentment with the moment, and celebrate with loved ones the joy at “this” life.

The previous paragraph has more to do with success outside of Self. So what if you are the person you most admire if you could see from the outside? And I don’t mean this in a narcissistic type of self-absorption. It is more like the admiration and respect you have for certain people in your life. We all are attracted to and respect people for a whole slew of reasons. It can even boil down to style, what kind of music you listen to, your sense of humor, and your choice of friends. We often think that other people are more interesting, listen to more hip music, offer more insightful thoughts, tell funnier stories, have more confidence, pick better clothes, don’t care what others think of them, and on goes the list. We also think others are more spiritual, happier, better communicators, more loving, less angry, less stressed, or more grounded. But you are making choices everyday on how to live your life and what if those were the best choices for you? What if you actually admire your own Self as much as all those people FOR DIFFERENT REASONS? What we often don’t notice about ourselves are the things that make us admirable to others, the things that make us unique. Maybe some of the things we see in others are changes we would like to make about ourselves, but again, like the previous paragraph we miss the moment of who we are now. What if I told you that you actually miss what people like about you? While you are busy judging yourself and forever wanting to be a better person, other people are enjoying your many qualities right now.

There is nothing wrong with goals, aspirations and dreams. There is nothing wrong with wanting to be a better person, finding healing, and changing unhealthy habits, behaviors or ways of seeing. But we must remember not to dismiss who we are in this moment because that hurts and is actually dishonest. Wake up to the moment. Wake up to you. Look in the mirror.

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© 2020 by Jason McCarty, MA, CCC