Fill Yourself Up First
Our forefathers promised each one of us the pursuit of happiness, among other ideals. Yet it seems like the gap between those with, and those without, seems to continually widen. We end up getting caught in “the rat race”– an endless cycle of seeking out schools, people, jobs, and items that we think will bring us happiness. While this would be wonderful if it actually worked, since it can easily be achieved, it isn’t what our forefathers were referring to.
What they were referring to was the story of struggle–a rags to riches story–a story that inspired others and was unique to our great land of the free. While we’re no longer the only democratic country, we are still considered the land of opportunity. The odds of striking it big are not in our favor, but the opportunity to still exists. And that’s what makes this country great. The fact that we have the opportunities and resources to take an idea and make it a reality is nothing short of incredible.
Yet, statistically speaking, only about 2.5% of people are considered the innovators or risk-takers. That’s pretty close to the estimated 1% of famously wealthy people in the world. What gives? Why is it that only 2.5% of people are taking advantage of the tremendous opportunities we have available to us in this country? Much of it has to do with comfort–the fact that pursuing your dreams leaves you vulnerable to financial, social, and emotional ruin. Not to mention what it costs you in time, effort, and opportunities that will pass you by.
It’s estimated that 50% of all new businesses will fail within 5 years, and that number increases with each year after 5. You’d be taking a huge risk for a success rate equal to predicting the weather based on how you feel. But that isn’t all that’s holding people back. The other factor is faith in yourself. Confidence, true confidence, not just the facade that we put on for other people, is very low for a country that claims its place as a super-power, and has an abundance of opportunities to create the life you want. There are way too many factors to list in this post, but much of it comes down to the things that we are conditioned to believe as we grow up.
Why am I writing about this? Because it’s something I’ve learned along the way, and have only recently found the courage to change. It’s something that I have/am learning as I go, and think it could very well help some other people out as well. If you’re interested in more about this I recommend reading “Rich Dad, Poor Dad.” It’s a great book that will help alter your perspective on finances, charity, and relationships. Definitely well worth the read, or you can buy it as an audio. I have no affiliation with the author or publishing company. This is just me suggesting a good read.
How Can We End The “Rat-Race?”
It’s really quite simple, yet eludes most people. Stop trying to please everyone else–be “selfish”.
Most of us go through life, never really going after what we want. We are taught to help others, give to those in need, do what’s right. But, we take that as always do those things no matter what the cost. That isn’t a story of rags to riches, that’s a story of just rags. While I agree with all of those ideals, it’s a matter of your circumstances and situation in life. I’d love to give all of my money away to those in need, but where would that leave me? I’d be right back into the same circumstances that they are in. Those ideals are meant to be pursued only when you can afford them mentally, emotionally, financially, and physically.
Instead, be “selfish”, and I mean that in the most positive way possible. I don’t mean take as much as you can from others and only pursue what will benefit you. I mean, determine what it is that you want out of life, create a plan to get there, and stay on that path.
Too often we leave the path we’ve designed to go out of our way for others. Again, this is a great sentiment, but it often leads us into a cycle of playing catch-up. We tend to do it so often, that we don’t even realize that we have re-entered a cycle. Being selfish isn’t a bad thing. It means that you know what you need to do to get where you want, and you can only afford to do things that won’t take you off your path.
Why Being “Selfish” Is The Way
When you think of the most famous and most wealthy people in the world, the words kind, caring, sensitive, accepting, or any other positive word, probably isn’t the first thing you think of. It’s been conditioned in us to think of those people as being greedy, cutthroat business mean who only make decisions that they can profit from and whom have no soul. But in most cases, that’s simply not true.
Many of those people are some of the kindest, caring, philanthropic people you’ll ever meet. You generally don’t hear about their deeds because many of them choose to remain anonymous. They’ve reached a level where they don’t need to prove to anyone else who they are, because they already know.
When you are “selfish,” you allow yourself to be filled up. I always say, you can’t love someone unconditionally until you love yourself completely. If you don’t love yourself, you’re going to project your short-comings and feelings about yourself onto other people. The flaws within you, are the same flaws that you’ll point out in someone else. It’s your minds way of protecting your ego.
Admitting those flaws to yourself means that you recognize them and are admitting that your ego isn’t what it thinks it is. It means working on yourself, which is not fun, because usually you’re confronting demons that have been dormant for a long time, have become habitual, and are tough to change. It doesn’t make you feel good when you have to admit to yourself that you aren’t perfect.
However, when you can get to the point that you are willing and able to work on yourself, you learn who you really are. You’ll learn to accept your flaws, change the ones that you can, and begin to love yourself more completely. When this happens, you’ll find yourself filling your heart with love and happiness–and when you’re finally full, you’ll begin to spread what “pours over” to other people. That’s the moment that you’re able to finally love unconditionally.
The same logic applies to finances. While its nice to be able to help out other people, it doesn’t usually feel good when helping someone else out puts you in a bind later on. If you can’t fully help yourself, how can you help other people with the same problem? When you are frugal with your money, you begin to amass enough to be able to help other people out. As with the heart, when you have filled yourself up, whatever “pours over” is what you can help others with. When you have established security in your own needs and desires, you’re more willing and able to help others.
What Do I Do Now?
The 1% got there by taking the big risks early on. They knew what they wanted, made a plan to get there, and went for it, full well knowing the struggle, sacrifice, and drama that would come along with it. I’m not saying that you need to quit your job and spend your life savings pursuing an idea you have, but if you don’t risk anything, than you can’t get the big payoff.
Along the way, the wealthy and successful chose to stay true to their goals and motives, which unfortunately gave them the bad rap. But where are they now? They have the ability to give whatever they want, freely. They have the security and confidence to not care what other’s think of them. They have filled themselves up to the point that there isn’t much that they can’t give or do. But they also learned a lot of lessons along the way, which include HOW to give freely. They don’t give their money away to people who aren’t worthy. They choose who to give their money to, because they know what it takes to make a difference and they can recognize that in other people, organizations, charities, and so on.
If you really want to end the pursuit of happiness cycle, and start creating your rags to riches story, fill yourself up first. Decide what you want in life, make a plan to get it, and start. The number of lives that you’ll be able to make a difference in when you’re full, versus the number you can now, is so large that it’s not even worth comparing. It’ll take patience, discipline, faith, and a plan, but in this land of opportunity, the only thing holding you back is you. Go for it.
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My story, and how health and fitness has helped me find happiness.