We have many choices now, more so than ever before. Consider just our entertainment options. Many of us have Netflix accounts, giving us access to thousands of movies and shows. Or, if we want something more recent, we can go to a Redbox at the local Wal-Mart or McDonald’s. We don’t have to watch anything; we can go to a mini-golf course, baseball game, or bowling alley. We have board games at our houses, access to Pinterest, and games for our Playstations.
One of my friends has used the term “analysis paralysis,” where we have so many options that making one takes far longer than it should. And then what happens? We second guess ourselves.
It’s one thing to do this with a movie that could turn out to be MST3K-worthy (why, oh why, did they ever cancel that show?); it’s another to have that many options about what to do for a living, for example.
Say you became an accountant (a look of sympathy passes over my face as I understand your pain), and then found out the computer programmers who show up at 11 and leave at 5:30 make more than you, despite goofing off half the day. Would you second guess your decision? Would you berate yourself for not being smart enough to be a programmer?
One of the things that contributes to our low self-esteem is not that we have too many options, but that we compare ourselves to others so readily. With social media and the internet, we have more chances than ever to compare ourselves with everybody else and more options with which to do it.
We have to realize a couple things about comparing ourselves to other people:
1. We never really know the whole story. There was an NBA player named Allen Iverson who made over $200 million in the course of his career, led his team to the NBA Finals, and won scoring titles, despite being only 6’0″ tall. He has filed for bankruptcy and been through a divorce. Someone else’s life may seem perfect, like money is thrown at them and they go home to an amazingly hot spouse, but you don’t know the full picture. You don’t know what goes on behind closed doors or in their heads. And many people might look at your life and wish they had something you take for granted. Rather than wishing for something someone else has, be content with what God has given you and wait on Him to give you what you need.
2. It doesn’t matter. You won’t improve your value in any way by getting everything you seek. (You won’t really improve your happiness, either. There will still be life’s petty annoyances, fear of those things being taken away, and the down side of these things you want that you don’t know about or are dismissing as trivial.) You can’t improve your value, so what good is comparing yourself to others, save as a distraction to keep you from focusing on what God wants your focus to be?
The grass may seem greener on the other side, but it’s always golden on His.