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Day 84: It’s not personal

January 6, 2024

Imagine you were walking down the street and you saw a beautiful vase. You picked it up and, as you turned it in your hands, you accidentally dropped it and it smashed on the ground. 

As long as nobody else saw what happened and vase seemed not to belong to anyone, you’d be unlikely to give it much more thought. 

Now, what if you were walking down the road, having just bought a beautiful vase. You paid a lot of money for it, and as you’re walking down the road, someone bumps into you and you drop the vase so it smashes on the ground.

I’d hazard your reaction to the broken vase would be entirely different in this situation. I know mine would be!

What does this have to do with joy?

I take life quite personally. I want to do well. 

I want things to go my way, and I get knots in my stomach when people do better than me when I’m trying my best. When things are unfair, I hate being the one who is hard done by.

I think this is true for a lot of us, but I think it’s because most of us view our lives through “lead character” status. When something happens to the lead character, it’s personal. It matters more than when the same thing happens to an “extra”.

Did any of us bat an eyelid when the “red shirts” died in Star Wars? But we’d have been shocked and devastated to see Captain Kirk or Mr Spock taken out.

The thing with joyful living, however, is that we have to get our heads around the fact that it isn’t personal. EVERYONE is a lead character. To most other people, we ARE the extras. We ARE the red shirts. We don’t matter at all, except to a very small number of people. 

Nothing about life is personal and there are no guarantees. Which leads me back to the same thing I’ve written about multiple times over the last several weeks – when things are going well, we’re INCREDIBLY fortunate. An absolutely unbelievable number of things have to go right for that to be the case and we simply don’t see it because we’re too busy fixating on the broken vase. 

So, something I’m adding to my repertoire to help me navigate the downs and be greateful for the ups is this phrase, “I am insignificant and nothing is personal.”

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