Finding Happiness in a Jealous World

There is so much talent in this world. So much that, at times, it’s really hard not to feel bad about ourselves or jealous of others. There’s so much comparison in the world, and we want to be the best. Or, sometimes, it’s not even that. Sometimes we just want to be as good as someone else, and we’re not.

As a writer, it’s hard not to be jealous of others; just think of the millions of books that have been published. Apparently, the statistic (from a quick search on Google) is that a million books are published in a year in the U.S. That’s strong competition. The questions start to creep in: will I ever publish a book? Will someone ever read my writing and love it? Everyone is telling me that I’m a young writer, that I won’t be published for years, and sometimes it is so hard to keep the dedication.

In some ways, it’s even harder to not be jealous of the people close to us. Even writers that I’m close to, that I love and are amazing and I should wish all the best for them, I sometimes feel a twinge of jealousy when they seem to be progressing so much farther or so much faster than I am.

The world is so full of competition and self-pity. We see someone who has practiced art for years paint something and say to ourselves, “I wish I was that talented,” and when someone asks us to draw something, we say, “I can’t.”

Tell me, what has happened when you have told a girl she was pretty? 90% of the time the reaction is “What? No, I’m not. What are you talking about?” I can’t tell whether it’s because they really are confused by the compliment, or if they want the compliment to continue; they want reassurance that they really are beautiful.

You are.

You are beautiful. You are talented. And don’t let anyone tell you otherwise, especially if it’s yourself.

But maybe the reason the world is like this is because we made it this way. In our jealousy, in our pity, we’ve become self-centered. When others have accomplishments, because of our lack of them, we have no joy in them. In fact, sometimes we even wish that others would not have done such a wonderful thing so that we wouldn’t feel so bad.

That’s not how it’s supposed to be. Just think of how wonderful this would be: whenever someone had a good day, you had a good day, too. Whenever someone accomplished something, you shared in their joy. Whenever you saw someone making a difference, you were happy that the world was a better, brighter place, and you were encouraged, not discouraged. As one of my teachers put it, “Life would be a party all the time.”

Isn’t that what we want life to be like? We want to be happy. But we mistakenly believe that this will come by others praising us for what we do, or from being better than other people.

Happiness doesn’t come from the outside in. It comes from the inside out. Only you have the power to decide whether you are happy or not. When people used to tell me that, I didn’t understand what they meant when I was so sad. But I think I understand now.

It means that when someone accomplishes something, you choose whether to be happy or jealous. It means that when someone is better than you, you choose whether to use them as a model or to covet their position. It means that when someone gives you constructive criticism, you choose whether to honestly receive it or to push it away because you don’t want to change.

It’s hard. I will freely admit that, that right now, in the short-term, making that decision to put others in front of yourself is hard. But happiness is worth it, and it becomes easier every time you make that decision.

I challenge you: make the choice. Say “thank you” when someone compliments you, and pay it forward by complimenting others. Share in the joy of other people’s accomplishments. Smile at people. Serve others. Work hard. You will be happy, and you will find your worth.

There is a quote by Elder D. Todd Christofferson, a leader in my church, that I think describes this perfectly. “We become more substantive as we serve others. Indeed, it’s easier to find ourselves because there’s so much more of us to find.”

The Joy of Writing

A long, long time ago, I wrote my very first novel. Okay, so it wasn’t that long ago, but it has been almost 3 years since then. o.O waht it can’t have been that long. My novel was called Raven, finished at about 35,000 words…and I was absolutely convinced it was awesome.

Guess what? It really wasn’t that awesome.

But the great thing is, I thought it was. I loved writing that novel more than I think I’ve loved writing any other novel since. And I was absolutely exhilarated once I wrote that last word on April 29th–I’m pretty sure I told everyone five thousand times in the next week that I’d finished a novel.

Now, reading over it, it makes me laugh. A lot. Mainly because it’s really stupid and cheesy, but I thought it was wonderful, and that’s just funny. Here, I’ll show you a random excerpt, and you try to believe me thinking that this is some of the best writing ever written.

Kergan and the monster come to stand next to me. I become aware that the beast is right next to me. I look over at him, and he seems to grin, and I think I see the fangs wiggle just a bit. I turn away, trying not to notice the flippers that are waving right next to me.

I take a deep breath, then immediately wish I hadn’t. The creature, Balkarr, has an overpowering stench, and I resist the urge to pinch my nose shut. Now I really wish I hadn’t eaten so much. I position my nose as far away as I possibly can, and hope that I won’t be able to smell Balkarr too much.

Yep, there’s pages and pages and pages of this stuff. (Also, a lot of my “jokes” seem to deal with smelly things. I’m not sure why.)

Anyway, the point is that even though the writing itself, as well as a lot of the scenes and ideas, were not very good at all, I loved it, and I enjoyed the writing process immensely.

As you may have heard me mention before, about a year ago, I went to a writing conference, where lots and lots of different authors talked to us. So I ended up hearing the “writing life stories” from many authors, and they all seemed to have something in common.

Almost every author, when they talked about their writing career, they talked about a portion where they fell away from writing for a while, because they stopped enjoying it. Sometimes locked into a series and contracts from publishers, and sometimes just unable to find enjoyment in what they were doing.

So they stopped writing for a little while. And then, what did almost every one of them say?

They said they decided to write a novel for themselves. One writer wrote a mystery when she’d never written that genre. Others just got a new idea and went with it. They thought that this novel, since it wasn’t what they normally wrote, wouldn’t be any good.

But they were good. They were better, in fact, than what they’d written before. Those novels were the ones snatched up by agents and published.

Those were the novels that were loved by readers, because they were loved by their authors first.

Enjoyment and love of writing, I think, is key in writing a good novel. Of course, writing is hard. I know, personally, that sometimes it’s hard to get started writing, especially if a scene isn’t working out, or your characters are being annoying. *glares at Cren*

But at the end of the day, when we’ve finished our writing, we should have found enjoyment in it. Because if we don’t, why are we even doing it? There’s no point in writing if you don’t love it, but when you do…there’s every reason to continue on, even when times get hard.