Long version: 4 Habits Preventing You From Being Happy With Your Own Life (And Confronting Your Own Reality)
Alternative Title: Stop living through other people, come up with a plan to implement your dreams, and be the hero in your own movie. (Joe Rogan quote.)
Everyday you do something that allows you to live through something or someone other than yourself. You invest your emotions and your success in the success of others instead of yourself. I do it too. We all do. I look at this as a way for people to escape their own [dull] lives, when really we should be doing everything we can to make our lives the reality that we want to be in. Crazy as it sounds, you should be happy with your own life. One of the first steps to doing this is recognizing and eliminating the activities or habits that you participate in or utilize to escape from your own reality. You might even do all of the things on this list on a daily basis – that’s how mainstream these habits are.
The trick is to drawing the line between inspiration and vicarious living. Vicarious living is imaginative or sympathetic participation in the experience of another. Being inspired to be the best version of yourself is what makes the world go round. Life would be incredibly dull without inspiration. You digress to vicarious living when you’re more excited about the success of someone else than your own; when you have such little hope for yourself that you invest your emotions and feelings of success in someone who you feel deserves them more.
Here are 4 surprisingly mainstream habits that you should avoid or check yourself on if you want to start being happier with your own life.
- Immersing yourself in movies or TV Shows – Living through the fictional stories of actors on an electronic screen is something that you might not count as a tool for you to escape your own life, but it absolutely can be, depending on your level of involvement. This isn’t to say that some TV shows are beneficial to self-development if they are thought-provoking or educational, but I am cautioning against getting so absorbed into a TV show that thoughts such as, “I wish I was as strong as…” or “I wish I was as smart as…” or “I wish I had HIS life so that…” begin to surface whenever you watch the show. At that point, you’re no longer watching the TV show as a distraction. You’re watching the TV and trying to absorb yourself into the character, and by doing so you’re forgetting your own reality and living through another one instead. Even worse, you’re living a reality through a made-up story!
- Fanatically supporting sports teams (Read the whole paragraph before you freak out) – I went to BCS Championship in Arlington, Texas in January, to watch the Bucks and the Ducks compete for the title of the #1 college football team, the first tournament of its kind in NCAA history. I saw people that had seemingly lost their personal identities as they became absorbed in nationalistic fever. People were celebrating as if they had personally won thousands of dollars or had accomplished a lifelong goal. “We’re #1!” was chanted incessantly when the game ended and the Bucks had won. Let me break that down. “We’re” is short for “We are”. As a fan, I’m not sure how you became part of the team. You cheer for the #1 team. You, specifically, are not the #1 team. You watched the game and cheered, and while your support helped to embolden the players, you did not score the touchdown for them. On the other hand, I need to present the opposing side of this argument. I am an athlete myself. I’ve played lacrosse my whole life, including at the collegiate and international level. I understand the benefits of being part of a sports community. The sport of lacrosse has served as a point of common interest that has been the basis of countless friendships that have served me both emotionally and financially. In fact, I’m certain that what I do today would not have been possible without the sport of lacrosse. But, for people to feel such connection to an organization that they truly have very little to do with is concerning to me. At some point, it becomes another method of escaping reality. The point is that there is a line between a supporter and a fan(atic). Don’t get absorbed to the point that your very happiness and feelings of success depend on a sports team that you have almost zero effect on. Don’t vicariously live through a team. You should vest your emotions instead in something that you can control – and you know what that is? Yup. Your self.
- Celebrity stalking – Celebrities can be extremely inspiring people. Arnold Schwarzenegger is a bodybuilder turned Governor of California. Chris Kyle is an American hero. Tom Brady is a fantastic athlete. These people all have qualities that many of us want to possess, whether it’s work-ethic, a sense of mission, or athleticism. However, all of these people have one very important thing in common: They are not you. You have your own name and your own history. You have your own set of unique skills and talents (even if you haven’t quite figured them out yet). Use these people to inspire you. Copy their habits for your own success. But don’t become invested in them to the point that your own happiness depends on their success. Stop wishing to be a celebrity and go be a celebrity, if that’s what you want. Wishing without a plan of action is pointless. Knowledge without application is useless. And living through someone else is pathetic.
- Judging other people – Next time you’re having a conversation, I want you to be aware of just how much of your conversation is made up of you talking negatively about the people that you deal with in your life. Your co-workers. Your brother. Your friend who made a decision you find questionable. Notice all the assumptions that you make in your head, and then notice how many of those assumptions actually make it through your mouth, and into the conversation. It’s scary how much of our conversation revolves around our judging of other people. It’s easy to do. It’s a good way to make people laugh. It sure makes us feel better about ourselves. But here’s the thing: Judging others is simply a reflection of your own insecurities. Let me say that again, underlined and bolded: Judging others is a reflection of your own insecurities. Every time that you say something negative about someone else you are only reinforcing that particular insecurity of yourself. You’re making yourself feel okay because you have it better than someone else in some regard. When comparing yourself to others, it’s a way for you to reassure yourself that you’re “okay”. Basically, mind your own business. The only person that you need to be worried about is the best f*cking version of yourself. Sure, use other people’s levels of success to help inspire you to their heights, but don’t point out the reflections of your own insecurities in other people to make yourself feel good, you dick. That is only reinforcing the insecurity that is holding you back! To quote Benjamin Franklin, “Speak ill of no man, and speak all the good you know of everybody.” You’ll find that people start to like you more because of it.
It’s a short list of things to avoid in order to be happy with your own life, but some of these things are so ingrained that they may be difficult to adjust. Next time you’re watching a TV show or a movie, check in with yourself. Don’t forget about the real hero of your life. When you’re cheering for your favorite team, consider your actual attachment. When you’re following a celebrity, ask yourself: do you want to be him, or do you want to be LIKE him? Finally, stop judging other people. Every time that you make a joke or judge somebody else because they don’t measure up to your standard, you are only reinforcing your own insecurity. You solidify your own personal fear that you will not live up to that standard.
The only person you need to judge is the best version of yourself. Imagine that everyday you went to battle with the best, most driven, energy-filled, and motivated version of yourself, and perform accordingly. You know you can perform at that level, because it’s YOU that you’re struggling against. Embrace your own reality, even if it hurts. And then change it so that it’s something you’re proud of.