Today, I'm going to let you in on a guilty pleasure that happens in my bedroom.
Most Sundays, at 8:50am, my phone starts playing the song Beethoven's 5 Secrets, this is my cue to nudge my husband awake; and while he turns on the TV, I go and make the coffee.
I tuck back into bed, with a tray of coffees and almond danish, just in time to watch the green traffic lights flash on the television. These lights signal the start of the Formula 1 Grand Prix race.
The excitement of the start is often more energizing than my coffee. I love the familiar roar and bright livery of the cars, the wit and enthusiasm of the announcers, and the new-to-me stunning scenery (the races take place in a different country each week.)
Now why would I share this with you? Because yesterday something unremarkable, yet important, happened.
It was one of the most uneventful races of the season and the final standings were predictable: Max Verstappen for Red Bull in 1st, Lewis Hamilton for Mercedes in 2nd, and Valterri Bottas, also for Mercedes, in 3rd.
Valterri didn't look happy. He seldom looks very happy. Third is his familiar spot and he's almost always behind his teammate Lewis Hamilton. As the drivers took their places on the podium for the awards ceremony, one of the commentators pointed out that no one ever wants to be 3rd.
It's clear from Valterri's body language and interviews that he spends a lot of time comparing himself to the 2 drivers ahead of him and feeling like he's missed the mark or the deck is stacked against him. Instead of appreciating that he's ahead of 17 other drivers, or better than the other 7.9 billion people on the planet, he zeroes in on the 2 people ahead of him.
I know I've been guilty of following a similar train of thought. For example, at the end of the day, instead of acknowledging all the things I've gotten done, I'll focus on all that I didn't get done — I know Valterri and I are not alone. Many people, instead of enjoying their successes, will concentrate on what they haven't yet attained; like the dream vacation their friend went on or the triathlon their neighbor just completed.
Some may think that focusing on what's missing can be motivating, but I've never seen anything worthy obtained with dissatisfaction that couldn't have also been obtained from a place of ease.
Imagine if Valterri could be content that he's the 3rd best Formula 1 driver on the planet. What if he could be happy with the success he's had so far and still put his heart and soul into working on being better. What an experience that would be! I dare say, it might even be fun.
To find your place and rest in this paradox is life’s sweet spot: imagine being perfectly content with your current situation and still eager to work towards where you want to go.
Most people prefer concrete, black and white thinking because it's simpler: I'll be happy once ___[fill in the blank with future hope]___. The problem is that this equation is broken. I'm sure in the beginning of Valterri's career, 3rd place on the Formula 1 circuit would have been a dream come true, but now that he's made it there, it no longer seems good enough.
Embracing the abstraction of a paradox requires your mind to loosen and make space for ideas that don’t seem to naturally fit with one another. Luckily, you're built for abstract thinking — it's one of your many gifts!
So I invite you to play with the idea of being content and happy just as you are, right where you are, with all that you are; and from there, decide which direction, which inspiration, or which goal you want to pour your precious time and energy into.
Because you are perfect just as you are, right where you are, with all you have already done and you are capable of doing more with ease!
*Above photo by Sebastian Pociecha