on cups half empty, half full, and running over

My cup runneth over. Cup half empty or half full. We’ve heard these sayings time and time again, but recently I’ve been pondering on them as I practice gratitude.

We live in a really wonderful, awesome world but it’s a world that also struggles with scarcity culture. The culture of “never enough”, “not good enough”, “not pretty enough”, “not smart enough”, fill in the blank with whatever your personal not _______ enough is. We’re not just trying to improve, not only striving to be better humans, we’re obsessed with perfection that doesn’t exist and it’s driving us crazy.

I’m not saying it’s wrong to be motivated, but when we’re constantly comparing ourselves to an unrealistic expectation, we come up short and end up feeling hopeless about life. After all, when we look at our neighbor who has been training for a marathon for half a year and think “wow, I’ll never have a body like that”, but we’ve only just begun running ourselves, how can we possibly measure up? When we look at advertisements that show men with wrinkles and rugged visages but women are not allowed to have a single flaw, being retouched and photoshopped to unattainable perfection, how couldn’t we feel betrayed when we buy that face cream and never see the falsely advertised results?

When we look at someone else’s family and say “They’re happy all the time. They have a big house on a hill, huge yard with a picket fence, and two perfect children. They have everything I want.”, we don’t see what happens behind closed doors. When we see an Instagram highlight reel of sponsored vacations and seemingly flawless influencers living the life we’ve always dreamed, we feel a major surge of jealousy at best, and crippling depression at worst.

So what can we do when we’re faced with images of supposed perfection everyday, our inner voice unrelentingly whispering our flaws?

Let’s discuss healthy goals. A healthy goal is something that is within our power. We can’t say, “from now on I’m going to make everyone like me”, or “starting tomorrow, I’m going to have a better behaved kid”. Those aren’t things you can control, and to set a goal outside of your power will make you feel defeated. Do you want to be healthier? Practice self-care. Set a goal to drink more water. To take a morning walk. Do you want to feel more balanced and centered? Set a goal to do what makes you feel calm. Take an evening bath. Listen to soothing music. If you want to see a change within the people around you, it starts with you. How you act/react is so important, how you treat them, the boundaries and standards you set will influence the people that come and leave your life. Small, attainable goals will add up to new habits and a healthier lifestyle.

Gratitude practice is so important in the face of outside facades of perfection. We can look at that gorgeous influencer on a vacation in Paris and realize that, yes, they have been dealt a good hand. But also, they’re using a photo filter and editing, and they probably don’t have as perfect a life as you think they do. Another note, you could just unfollow them. Control what you’re putting in your brain.

We can also then look at our lives and say, you know what? My life is pretty dang good too.

Look around you. You have people that love you. The leaves dancing in the breeze are beautiful. The sound of birds singing is lovely. You have a beating heart within your chest, lungs that sustain you. You are a miracle, and none of the stuff they’re telling you that you need is necessary for a good life. All you need for a good life is a gratitude mentality.

We don’t need our cups to run over. We don’t need an excess of so much stuff we don’t even know what to do with it. All we need is what we need, and the right mindset to realize we already have it.