In my journey, I’ve lived through high-stress major-life challenges, as many of us have. Some learn to cope better with others, but like many, anxiety ramped up in my late twenties – now 30- and became the go-to reaction that I’ve been learning to navigate and combat in these last few years.
Some key tools for calming anxiety and finding happiness are: 1. Mindfulness (noticing the details around you, engaging your senses, and then appreciating them). 2. Self-awareness in difficult moments (What narrative is this pain or anxiety coming from? What are you saying to yourself in those moments, what story are you living? Is that narrative based on past trauma or old relationships? Think through and work through it).
But I’ve come to a breakthrough beyond those tools, or perhaps because of my practicing those tools, in discovering this very, very important truth:
Successes and victories are not found in numbers, but in that which brings the most love, joy, and peace.
Let’s talk numbers for a second. They’re SO goddamn easy to calculate and compare, to use to measure yourself (and others), to notice when progress or specific achievement has been made. Examples: GPA’s and test scores, Social Media friends/followers and likes, weight/ inches/ pant size, number of minutes spent in _____, cost of your car, square-footage of your home and/or yard, yearly salary, revenue, number of bags of tea sold 😉 (etc. etc. etc.).
But this is why they are SO dangerous: They’re so easy to use to measure yourself and others. If numbers are that which you find your worth, you’ve completely missed the point. WHY do we work so hard “on our numbers?” Is it not to have greater love, joy, and peace? In the end, isn’t that what really matters and the reason we do those things in the first place? Of course, sacrificing joy or peace in the immediate in order to have more later makes sense. It’s why I work so hard instead of just spending all of my days playing with my girls. But. BUT. I ONLY work hard so that in the end, my joy, love, and peace have increased. I must remember that.
Once I have a meter, a gauge, the numbers by which I pass or fail or judge others as passing or failing, I’ve entered into a dangerous realm. One that exists on the wretched, weak pedestals of anxiety, unhappiness, and depression.
We are so desperate for someone to tell us we are okay. We are worth it. We are enough. So desperate that our attention turns to the numbers, because they are an easy validation point. But in looking for them to validate us, they will just as easily torture us. Because numbers are infinite. Why 6, not 7? Why 1,200, not 1,400? Numbers, by definition, never have an end point. There will always be a number greater and lesser than what you have.
Until we let go of our obsession with defining ourselves by our numbers, we will never be happy.
What would the world look like if we sacrificed our numbers more often in order to have greater love, joy and peace, instead of gravitating to the addiction-like tendencies to do the opposite?
Happiness (for me) can only be found in the increasing of love, joy, and peace in my life, and that can be found at any time, at any place, regardless of any of the numbers by which the world (or myself) wants to measure me.
You are okay. You are worth it. You are enough. Now, go spend some time believing that!