The Fear of Falling Behind
From 15 to 30 years old, I was obsessed with this idea of falling behind. Looking back, I would tell my younger self this: "Stop being so hard on yourself!! Be patient and pace yourself. Most things in life take time. You can't pull on the carrots in a garden to make them grow faster. They are not falling behind; they just need time to grow. You need to give life enough time to work its magic. It doesn’t mean that you have to be completely passive, just work with the flow of life instead of resisting it." This sense of urgency still comes back from time to time but now I try to focus on the things I can do today to achieve my vision instead of looking too far into the future, a future I have no control over.
I am at a point in life where I am actually questioning the importance of accomplishments in my life. When did life become such a competition? Accomplishments are great but what matters most is how we live our day to day life. Is life a competition that I need to win or an experience I need to fully live? Matt Damon said that we was happy that he won an Oscar at such a young age because he realized that happiness wasn't there (video). I took the Yale's free online course The Science of Well-Being and the teacher explained how we often mispredict the things that will make us happy. I blame our constant exposure to marketing but that is a whole different subject. So, if hapiness isn't in accomplishments, where is it? Stay tuned, we might find it together.
Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield said in his book An Astronaut's Guide to Life on Earth that an astronaut trained hard all his life with no certainty that he would ever go to space. If going to space was his only goal, he would be in a constant state of disappointment and unhappiness. He put his focus on his daily training, made sure the training on its own would fulfill because it was what most of his life was about. Going to space was the cherry on top but not his goal. I thought that it was an interesting point of view. We sometimes have tunnel vision and get lost in these goals and accomplishments that are very narrow minded. If Chris Hadfield could train as hard as he did with no certainty he would ever go to space, I am sure I can live a life that is going toward a certain goal without the certainty of every getting it...as long as I enjoy the ride, as cliché as it may be. It brings me back to square one: what about simply enjoying my daily life and being happy in the moment instead of chasing a future state of happiness? We are never falling behind when we are enjoying the ride, we are right on track.