A Lesson On Measuring Life

Photo by Sharon McCutcheon on Unsplash

One’s wealth can be measured by the number of digits in their bank accounts. Fitness enthusiasts measure their food consumption by calorie counting. Business profitability performance is measured by net profit margin, return on capital, and the like. But how do you measure happiness? Success? Self-worth? Naturally, many of us adhere to societal standards of beauty, behavior, and success. A mentality we are expected and even at times, forced to abide by. Get high grades. Make thousands of money. Be prim and proper. Buy nice things. Marry someone successful.

Because of this long-established mindset, it has shaped the things we value in life. “If I look like a Victoria Secret model, then I’ll be happy. If I can accomplish straight A’s, then I’ll be successful. If I date someone like Chris Hemsworth, then I’ll feel loved.” But the thing is, a single definite formula for any of this doesn’t exist. It’s natural for us humans to compare and measure up ourselves to others. It’s an imminent aspect of our essential being. And if these certain standards are not met, it leads us to feel like a failure, inadequate, unlovable which increases our stress and anxiety. However, we have a choice to reevaluate and improve these life metrics we’re profoundly fixated on. As Mark Manson said:

“We may not be able to stop measuring ourselves against others, but we can decide which yardstick we use to measure.”

Although some of society’s metrics are useful, it is not absolute. It’s important to remind ourselves that we are not limited by this. Practicing a religion gives people a sense of moral direction, but that doesn’t automatically make one a good, moral person. Building many relationships is worthwhile, but it doesn’t guarantee that all of them are genuine and reliable. Achieving academic excellence is commendable, but lacking thereof doesn’t make one any less valuable as a person. We must take into consideration that we’re all different and it’s within our jurisdiction to choose our own metrics.

For instance, you’re an active person because you want to stay fit and improve your lifestyle. So you commit to maintaining a healthy diet, exercising regularly, and getting enough sleep. And for so long, you have managed this practice into your daily routine, making significant progress from day 1 with the goal you set yourself to. But as you scroll through Instagram, you see all these other people who embody godlike figures and somehow, you feel as if you’re not doing enough. Which either makes you want to give up or to push yourself harder than you should. Despite all the progress you’ve made, you still see yourself as a disappointment.

And this is where you reevaluate your metric. Firstly, it’s crucial that you understand why you feel this way. Identify your reasons and rationalize your feelings by asking yourself, ‘why’ until you arrive at a definite conclusion. In this scenario, you feel as if you’ve failed because someone’s more fit than you. From here, adjust your mindset by changing your metric for success to a more valuable one. If you choose to measure your fitness achievement by the improvement of your energy or the reduction of your anxiety levels, then you won’t have to feel bad about yourself. Instead of obsessing and stressing over those models, you will feel more energized and motivated to stay active at an appropriate level of intensity.

In another context, many of the people I know who suffer from self-deprecation are most of the time those who are engaged in romantic relationships. For example, when their partner takes too long to respond, they sort of wonder and feel as if they’re not important. And they spend the whole day stuck in bed with their bags of chips and countless thoughts wandering from, “Whatever, I don’t care” at 2 p.m. to “Am I not worth it?” at 2 a.m. At that moment, they start to feel frustrated and distressed and utter every nasty word they could think of, inculpating their partner for making them feel worthless.

Again, to those who can relate to this, reconsider your metric. Remember that your self-importance should not be based merely on the speed or frequency of your partner’s response. Heck, of anyone’s anything as what I’ve been trying to say, no matter how big of a part a person holds in your life. If you feel worthless, you can’t blame them because it’s not their responsibility. You chose to measure your self-worth on the basis of the manner they treated you which I’m sure you’re worth more of.

But to be honest, I, for one, used to mope around, thinking if there was something wrong with me because of the way this particular person types, yes types. When I realized how superficial my metric was for my self-value, all the more I felt bad for myself. Because all along, I was unhappy because of me. Ergo, I made a choice to refuse this mindset that my importance is dependent on how someone might think of me nor that my value decreases based upon someone’s inability to treat me the way I want to be treated.

Convince yourself to think just because. “Just because he doesn’t talk to me every day, doesn’t mean I’m not important. Just because she doesn’t compliment me, doesn’t mean I’m not doing a good job.” Rediscovering your worth will help you realize what you truly deserve. And you get that whether through speaking your heart out or just walking away. At the end of the day, whatever it may be, you get to decide. When I learned and adapted this mentality, it allowed me to put things into perspective and reassess the life metrics that used to consume my spirit away.

Recognizing I had that much control over my choices, I began to shift my attention and value metrics that truly matter. Now, I consider my wins even as small as finishing schoolwork early, doing a 30-minute workout, or even just squeezing in a 10-minute nap between classes. This doesn’t necessarily mean that I don’t get upset or stressed out anymore, I still do every now and then. But the difference is that I now have a stronger footing on what I choose to struggle for. My happiness is not conditional to others’ approval or validation anymore. It’s simply the improvement of my well-being, be it physically or mentally.

So if you feel unhappy or useless, maybe take a look and check if you’re using a substantial metric. If you stay keen on depending your happiness and value based on your test results, popularity, or wealth in comparison to others, then you’re confining yourself to a mindset with no end in sight. Because someone will always be prettier, fitter, smarter than you; someone will always have something to say regardless of what you do. There will be people along the way you really won’t measure up against; you won’t always be their cup of tea. Hence, don’t let others dictate your metrics for you and own your life. Overall, the point is you get to choose how you measure your success, happiness, and self-worth.

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Ruk Guevara

Ruk Guevara

If I was a writer, I’d have a better bio.