Have you ever thought that something in your life is just not fair?
I know I have, and it’s not a good thing.
I think that most of us have some kind of fairness meter built into our psyche.
Truth is, though, it’s not a good way to go through life - worrying about what’s fair and what’s not - because it can send you into a tailspin. It can cultivate negative thinking. It can lead you to say some stupid and hurtful things to people.
For myself, I feel I can turn off the fairness meter, although it can come back on by itself, at which point I have to hit the breaker again.
I have found that the best way to turn it off is to look to others for inspiration.
We humans are really good at judging and comparing, and those abilities help us aspire to be better, to strive for more.
But the feeling of “that’s not fair” is the dark side of our ability to judge and compare.
It’s a cousin to greed and envy, two awful motivators that are heavy feelings to live with.
It’s a tendency to view only what’s in front of you and see what someone else has and what you do not.
It’s the feeling that helps you build your list of why you can’t do what someone else can.
It is not a view enhanced by perspective. It’s not a view that takes into account a person’s past, the hard work they have done, the sacrifices they have made, and all the things you do not know about.
If you look and compare, there is always someone a little better off. They make more money; they have a bigger house, a better car, and a more loving and supportive spouse. And the list goes on.
The problem with this view is that it’s your built-in life limiter.
They’re all around you.
I remember having lunch with a man in his early 90’s a few years back. I felt compelled to ask him what the key was to living such a long life. Without missing a beat, he said to me, “Just worry about yourself, what you need to do, and don’t bother anybody.”
The advice has a lot of wisdom in it. He didn’t mean to not be charitable, or to be nasty to people. He meant to just work hard and do what you need to do.
I could tell he didn’t believe in “it’s not fair”.
People like this gentleman also take a good long hard look at themselves and say, “Ok, here are the cards I’ve been dealt. What am I going to do about it?” They assume that no one is going to give them anything.
They don’t walk around with score cards comparing themselves with others who seem to have more than them, because they know that it’s impossible to know about the sacrifices people have made to get to where they are in life.
Gems of wisdom
I’ve found that people like that older gentlemen have gems of wisdom, and that if you take the time to notice them, they can help you rise above petty comparisons.
It’s usually wisdom presented to you in a simple statement or during some chance encounter you may have during your day.
It’s often someone who says something that makes you think…” What a great way to go through life!”
I have written about a few people who affected me that way in these posts:
You may recall my meeting with the train conductor in my post Yes, things can suck sometimes, How to be happy anyway! whose humble line to me was, “I have my moments”
Or my story about the incredible waiter I met at a restaurant in Montreal that I shared in this post: Simple secrets that will help you smile more at work. His mantra was, “Treat people the way you want to be treated.”
Or the powerful realization from a leader shared with me while attending one of my programs that his people needed a better perspective to be successful. You can read about that here: How a new perspective will make you more successful.
Each of these people reminds me about a better way to look at what’s going on around me.
How you can put ”life’s not fair” out of your mind.
1) Figure out what it is that you want, not because someone else has it but because you want it. Figure out the best way for you to get there. Then you can focus on yourself and not someone else. Know that very rarely are two paths the same.
2) When you come across someone whose success you admire, ask them how they achieved it. Find out about their story. What’s are things that they did that you haven’t done? Learning about those things will help you appreciate them and help you understand if it’s something possible for you to accomplish as well. It takes “it’s not fair” to “that’s inspiring”
3) Help someone. When you see someone who could use some help, share your knowledge or expertise. Now you have really fought against “life’s not fair”.
Tell me in the comments how you overcome the feeling of “life’s not fair”. We all need as many tips as we can get.