I spent all of my life believing that I was intellectually, athletically, charmingly, and determinedly superior enough to achieve levels of success, as measured by society, far greater than most of my peers. By the time I was 42 or 43 it had become apparent that I had wandered, or more accurately, stumbled off the rails. I had always engaged in plenty of judging, questioning, and being confounded by other people’s successes. It became so much more acute when I realized that I was the reason that I was not experiencing the same or was simply too angry to be grateful. I had been blessed far more than I deserved as have many of us. There was a time after I stopped working that things were pretty tight financially, but by the standards of at least two-thirds of the world’s population I was still in relative luxury. I had never, and still have not, missed a meal if I felt like eating, never slept under the stars out of necessity, and never been cold without easily being able to warm myself.
I suffer from major depressive disorder and in the darkest periods it has always been impossible to feel gratitude, or more accurately, joy arising from gratitude. I think some degree of acceptance and pleasure with one’s circumstances is absolutely necessary to be grateful. If we can not accept people, places and things as we find them at present, how could we possibly be grateful for our “now”. The law of large numbers essentially dictates that there are probably 6-6.5 billion ordinary people in the world. I don’t have any government or think tank, half million dollar scientific study to back up my assertion. I simply assume that no more than 15% of the world’s population could possibly be considered extraordinary. It is entirely possible that I am off by a half billion or so. However that seems close enough by government standards and It has not cost a foundation or taxpayers a penny for me to get as close as a detailed study would.
When I say the vast majority of us are ordinary people I am only speaking in terms of intelligence, athleticism, wealth, appearance, artistic ability, and probably a few more attributes that don’t immediately come to mind. There are of course negative attributes that I think the same figures apply such as criminal endeavours, hate mongers, murderers, liars, scammers, and probably many more than in the positive attributes category. That probably sounds like a negative view of humanity but based on news reports there are many more really bad people in our world than really good people. I honestly have a much higher faith in the goodness of man than the picture painted for us by the media. A 30 minute nightly news segment typically has 4 minutes of ads (I think we still get 26 of substance) 24 minutes of bad news and two minutes dedicated to an amazing act of kindness or “good news”.
I have spent a lot of space to make a pretty simple point. For those of us who were always gonna be “the best something”, most of the GOAT positions are taken and will be relinquished over a long period of time. Sorry to ruin that plan but there is an unbelievable silver lining to me raining on your ticker tape parade. When I finally realized that I could be a really good, kind, thoughtful, loving husband, father, grandfather, son, and friend it was an incredible freedom! I did not have to beat myself up on at least a daily basis and usually more often. It is not that I don’t want to be better tomorrow than today under the hats I wear, but that is a much lower bar and far fewer beatings. So be kind to yourself and others and just try to be your best self rather than the best ever.