What is your Achilles' heel? Is it when you see someone else and want what they have? Of course, we never really have the full picture -- we just see what's on the surface.
I'm reminded of a story by Dennis Prager in his book "Happiness is a Serious Problem." The author shares that he met a young man who struck him as "having it all" -- an exciting career, a fulfilling family life and a home in the city he loved.
When the subject of the Internet came up, the "ideal" man blessed its existence because he could look up information on multiple sclerosis, the terrible disease affecting his wife. Prager says he felt like a fool for assuming nothing unhappy existed in the man's life.
So, how do we shift our focus from what's missing? Here's a clue I've learned: Gratitude is the antidote to misery.
You could start by making a short list of five things for which you're grateful. Some days this may be tougher than others. (If you're doing this list at the end of the day, you can at least be thankful that the day is over!)
After practicing this short exercise for a while, you may very well find that you come up with more and more things to be grateful for. Over time, these will help to drown out the chorus of negativity brought on by what's missing -- or at least help to neutralize it.
Don't get me wrong. I'm not suggesting that we strive to live continuously by the platitudes of "stop and smell the roses" or "don't sweat the small stuff." It's the contrasts in life that create the depths of our experiences, help us to learn life lessons and weave the tapestries of the lives we lead.
We all go through life's ups and downs -- at times descending into dark nights of the soul. I'm just suggesting that there may be options to feel better eventually -- even when it looks like there's no way out.
Switching gears may take time, and you need to commend yourself for baby steps. Continuously beating yourself up in your mind for your alleged shortcomings can take a big toll on your health.
By the same token, holding resentment against someone else can be just as bad. There's a saying that holding resentment is like drinking poison and expecting someone else to get sick.
You're the only one who can decide how long you stay in any particular state -- days, weeks, months, years? Nobody else can know what you're going through. Nobody else is walking in your moccasins.
Linda Arnold, MBA, is a certified wellness instructor and chairwoman and CEO of The Arnold Agency, an advertising, public relations and government relations firm in Charleston. Reader inquiries may be directed to Linda Arnold, The Arnold Agency, 117 Summers St., Charleston, WV 25301, or e-mailed to livinglifefu...@arnoldagency.com.