March 29, 2019

Most of the time we don’t even know that we’re doing it. We don’t realize that we’ve signed up for this crazy merry-go-round of keeping up.

Keeping up with your friends.

Keeping up with how much money people make.

Keeping up with the achievements of your colleagues.

Keeping up with vacations.

Keeping up with looking good on the ‘gram.

Keeping up with timelines, of what you’re supposed to have and when you’re supposed to have it.

Keeping up with the newest health trends.

Keeping up with beauty standards.

Keeping up with new technology.

Keeping up with things to have. People to be. Success to climb. Money to mount. Ways to look. Trends to master. Zen to keep. Places to go. Parties to attend. Phrases to say. Work to create.

Do you ever stop and ask yourself: But do I even want it?

And can you take that further to ask yourself: But why do I think I want this?

For example, I was recently invited to attend a conference where I could brush shoulders with some notable people in my industry.

I felt like I should be there.

That it would keep me relevant. That it might lead to future business. That I’d meet some people I needed to know.

But I felt stressed at the idea of making it work. I realized that the only reason I wanted to be there was because I wanted to keep up—not because that experience actually would bring me joy. And when I asked myself those questions, I got to my honest feelings. I declined the invitation.

If you ask yourself:

Do I even want it? And why do I think I want this?

You’ll find somewhere in your answer the truth. The truth to where you’re feeling pressured. The truth to what actually matters to you. The truth about this rat race of keeping up. It’s a game that isn’t grounded in what matters most to you, but rather fueled by comparison.

The truth about this rat race of keeping up. It’s a game that isn’t grounded in what matters most to you, but rather fueled by comparison.

Most times when we compare ourselves, we feel nothing but negative feelings. Because we choose to compare ourselves to those with more than us. Those who are where we want to be. But it doesn’t have to be that way. We can actually flip comparing to bring us joy.

Writer Scott Wilhite brings up the idea of "deliberate comparison" as a tool to use instead of keeping up. He outlines how we can compare ourselves in another more beneficial way:

“If you were to deliberately compare yourself to someone less fortunate than yourself you would be setting yourself up with your own achilles heel of pride, which will in the future become a vulnerable point for you. However, if you use the skill of comparison to spark your gratitude levels and then you do something about it in a way to help others, you can immediately self-start your upward spiral and at the same time avoid the pitfalls of pride and arrogance.”

What he means: Instead of using comparison to focus on what we don’t have (those networking contacts, that workout membership, time to watch that show everyone’s talking about), use it to savor what we do have (a budding career, motivation to get healthy, and an Internet connection at all).

"Think of everything you have, and allow that to fill you with a sense of gratitude," he writes. "Gratitude is realizing you are the recipient of deliberate kindness."

Instead of comparison fueling up your “keeping up” guilt, use it to fuel gratitude.

"Gratitude is realizing you are the recipient of deliberate kindness.”
- Scott Wilhite

We know that gratitude is one of the surest ways to feel more joy. According to Harvard Health, “In positive psychology research, gratitude is strongly and consistently associated with greater happiness.”

So if we can trade “keeping up” for gratitude, we can improve our lives. Not worsen them.

Otherwise, keeping up will run you dry. It’ll run you ragged. And there will always be someone to keep up with no matter what you’ve done, what you have, or who you are.

You already matter, so quit trying to keep up.

You already matter, so quit trying to keep up.

When you come from that place, the place of mattering already, the place of having enough and being enough already, you make choices to pursue more from a place of alignment. And when you do that, you’ll start finding fulfillment.

The only way to win the game of keeping up is to stop keeping up entirely.

Instead, create, pursue, and desire from a place that matters most to you and only you.

Read next: What Made Me Finally Understand This Whole Gratitude Thing

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