Friday, October 28, 2011

Life is not a grocery store

Every morning I get up, I get dressed, I come into work, I turn on my computer, I put my lunch in the refrigerator, I get a glass of water and a cup of coffee, I return to my desk, I make sure there are no super important emails to respond to, and I get down to the real business of reading my Google Reader. This morning was no different (except I spent the first 30 minutes of blog-reading on my couch, thus making me 30 minutes later to work. It's Thursday, whatever.) I opened this post, and haven't stopped thinking about it since.

I'm going to copy & paste Caitlin's words here, because I couldn't paraphrase them well even if I tried:

Life is not a supermarket stocked with limited quantities of happiness on the shelves. There are no shelves packed with loving partners, successful jobs, beautiful babies, and nice homes. Just because someone else has a loving partner, successful job, beautiful baby, or nice home doesn’t impact my ability to achieve the same things. Life can’t sell out on happiness.

Life is like the shore, where the ocean meets the sand. There’s room for us all to stand near the waves. The water recedes, the waves crash in. And sometimes, the waves bring in goodness. Washing up right at our feet are loving partners, successful jobs, beautiful babies, and nice homes. What one person receives down the shoreline doesn’t impact your ability to achieve happiness. And sometimes – just sometimes – you have to wade in and take the happiness you want.

In movies, when a terrifying natural disaster is near, everyone rushes to the supermarket, and two crazed women inevitably start fighting over the last loaf of bread. I’m tired of that treating others like we’re all staring down an empty, dusty supermarket shelf.

Caitlin is obviously in a different place in her life than I am in mine, but the point of her message still rings true: we can all achieve happiness, and it doesn't have to be at the expense of someone else.
I had a long conversation with a good friend last night, and he told me that I empathize with others too much. It's true - I take on other people's emotions on top of my own. I'm happy when they are happy, I'm sad when they are sad. I've always been this way, and I think I will always continue to be. But sometimes, just for a minute, I think they should be grateful for what they have, or they should be even happier than they are, and I find myself thinking those things because I am without whatever they are happy about, be it a new relationship or an exciting new job or WHATEVER.
So today, I'm here to tell you that I am going to be even more aware of my attitude towards my friends, coworkers, and just people I come across in life. I'm going to be happy when they are happy, and sad when they are sad, and just let that be enough. My time will come when someone will be happy when I am happy, and I hope when that happens that person isn't secretly thinking I should be feeling some other way.  


  1. Oh gosh, am I going through that whole listening to other people complain and thinking "you should be grateful for what you have" as they're complaining to me. Not necessarily because I want what they have, but because I know others who are far more hard up, or I remember times when I was going through a rough patch far worse than whatever they are dealing with...ugh.

  2. This is a really good point. Too often people are overcome with jealousy and resentment and it's sad and destructive. It's important for me to realize that 30 isn't ancient (ha, at least that's what I'm telling myself) and that some of those things will come my way, eventually, even if the timeline isn't what I thought it would be.