Keep Your Eyes on Your Own Plate: How NOT to Compare in a Competitive World

Is your plate half empty or half full? Thanksgiving bounty

A Thanksgiving Article about Celebrating the Bounty Right In Front of Us

It was a popular discussion in our household. Three kids. Three desserts. Six eyes darting back and forth.  Who got the best cupcake? The biggest dish of Jello? The largest number of Mandarin “dinky” oranges?

“Mom! Scott got more than me!”

Dad would jump in before it ever got out of hand.

“Robyn.  Look at your own plate.”

Or, as the years went on, a simple point downward at his own plate would tell of his sage advice.

Ahhh. Fatherly advice.  We don’t always appreciate it when it’s handed out, but I can tell you, now that my father passed away, I cherish these little tidbits that were so “him.” It’s advice that I remind myself of from time to time when my own perfectionistic Gremlin comes out to rear its ugly head.  “Are you achieving enough? Do you have enough? Don’t you want what she has?”

Comparison is normal.  People do it in all areas of their lives.  Weight. Money. Success. And the opportunity presents itself at every age and in every scenario.  One boy has more blocks, one girl got more time with Dad, one teen gets to stay out later, one career woman gets a high-paying job, and one family goes on a “better” vacation.  In our lives, many of us rarely keep our eyes on our own plates.

So, at Thanksgiving time, perhaps it’s the best time to refocus.

  1. Remember that you only have less when you compare your bounty with someone else: I know.  We don’t exist in a vacuum. But think about it.  When you have something, is it’s worth determined by how it compares to someone else’s gifts or does it speak for itself?  If it’s the former, you are always at the other person’s mercy.  Remember, someone will always have more, another less. Stop looking at everyone else’s grass and grow your own!
  2. Show outward gratitude: We often talk about gratitude at this time of year.  Be thankful for what you have, we hear.  But I’d like to suggest taking it a step further.  Say it out loud.  I’ve found that only good comes from telling others how much you appreciate them.  Sometimes you may feel a little sappy saying it but I can almost guarantee that the other person won’t think anything but positive thoughts for being recognized and appreciated.
  3. Spend your time doing something fulfilling: What fulfills you? What grounds you? Who do you love to spend time with? For no other reason but that it fills you up and makes you feel like you’ll explode with joy, do it.  Don’t worry if it seems silly.  We’re looking at our own plates and our own plates only.
  4. List your gifts: I talked about this before—I think it’s time we recognize our own assets.  So many are apt to complain about what they lack. How about talking about what you love about yourself? Forget about what others can do or what others have. Jot down everything that makes you amazing–every goal you’ve achieved over the last year– every life you’ve made better– in a diary or go ahead and declare your assets and accomplishments to the world.  Own your gifts and be proud.
  5. Set your goals: Now, the important thing here is that they are YOUR goals and no one else’s.  Your goals need to be based on your own passions and drive not based on what other people have or want.  Because, at the end of the day, if you have something only because someone else has it, it’s really not that fulfilling, is it?  Keep asking yourself; Does this goal excite me? Does it make me happy to go after it? What is my motivation?

This Thanksgiving, I not only wish you the greatest holiday—but one that is fulfilling because you are utterly present, totally proud, and completely grateful for who you are, what you have, where you’re from and what you bring to the table. Look at your own plate and you will see that your plate is full and many times, overflows with gifts.

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