Fred The Dog was at the park with his owners, chewing on his bone.
As he sat and gnawed, he noticed that other dogs had bones too. Some of them were bigger than his. And some looked tastier.
That’s when Fred experienced something he’d never felt at home alone with his bone—envy. Suddenly, the bone in Fred’s mouth wasn’t good enough anymore. He wanted to explore his options.
Fred wandered down to the pond to sulk. And when reached the edge, he looked down at the calm, blue water.
That’s when he saw it.
Another dog appeared right in front of Fred in the water. And he had a bone in his mouth, too! Fred studied the situation a bit. He’d move his head to the left, and the other dog would follow. He’d move to the right, and the other dog would do the same.
Suddenly, Fred’s envy became too much. All he could think about was how much he wanted that other dog’s bone. So, being a dog of action, he decided he was going to go after it.
Just as Fred opened his mouth to go for the other bone, he dropped his own. The bone splashed into the water and quickly sank to the bottom. The calm water was gone and the other dog—along with his bone—disappeared.
Fred suffered from what’s known as Bone In Mouth Syndrome. It’s what Grass Is Always Greener Disorder becomes if not remedied early on.
Happy People Compete With Themselves
Bone In Mouth Syndrome and Grass Is Always Greener Disorder are caused by improperly comparing yourself to others. The happiest people in the world are those who challenge themselves to be better than they were yesterday, taking little notice of those around them, while the most frustrated are those that are always trying to catch up to the standards set by someone else.
The problem with the second approach is there will always be someone better than you. Someone better looking than you. Someone better at your job than you. Someone better at sports than you. Whatever it is you want to improve, there will always be someone better; you’ll never meet the goal of becoming the best. If you do, someone will be along to displace you shortly.
But what you can become is your best. You can take what you already have, and mold it into something better. And you get to be the judge of what “better” really means.
Do what you can with what you have. Do it over and over. As long as you steadily improve, you’ll be the best you possible every single day.
The Untold Fortunes In Your Own Bone
You’re probably smart enough not to be tricked by your reflection in a pond but, if you’re human like the rest of us, you can think of times in your life when you’ve suffered the same fate as Fred.
You had something good going, but you got bored or tired and gave it up for something that looked better. And, soon enough, you found this new thing had left you feeling bored and tired, too. Back to square one.
I’m certainly not immune. I can think of times I neglected my business to pursue other, more exciting opportunities only to want to move on again all too soon. I’ve sold off boring investments to chase more exciting ones only to end up back at zero. Some people do the same with relationships, thinking that finding someone new will fix the emptiness they feel inside themselves.
Bone In Mouth Syndrome is a prevalent disease and, unless you realize you have it, you’re prone to fall victim to it again and again.
The problem lies in the idea that happiness and richness in life can be found by buying new things, starting new projects, going new places. That you’re not as happy as you could be if only you could do or have ______________, and that you’re better off giving up what you’ve got to go after it.
Sometimes, giving one thing up to get another is the right decision. Every smart Riskologist knows you have to follow your heart and your intuition to lead the happiest life. But, all too often, you discount the problems you have in your current life as being attached to the things you have, the place you are, or the projects you’re working on instead of something within yourself that needs improvement.
One thing I’ve learned from my happiest and most successful friends is that:
- They often say no to really great opportunities because constantly starting something new shortchanges the things they’re already working on.
- When they lose steam or feel unhappy with their life, they look within themselves for the problem rather than looking for something new to numb the feeling.
Adopting these practices in my life has led to drastically increased contentment. It doesn’t mean I stop taking risks or striving for more; it means I use the resources I already have to do those things to the best of my ability, not worry about finding something new that will magically make it better.
The next time you get the urge to abandon something you have for something new, ask yourself how the new thing will truly be different. Ask yourself, “Is this really the right change to make, or am I avoiding the hard work of self-improvement?”
Fred The Dog is not able to ask himself this question, and it cost him his bone. You, however, are very capable, so don’t drop yours in the pond.
Yours in risk-taking,