What if this is as good as it gets?
This is a line from the movie As Good As It Gets. What are we to do with it?
On the one hand, I don’t want to cave in to the futility of that statement. I am always seeking to improve, so if wherever I’m at is as good as it gets, then my purpose in life is bullshit.
On the other hand, I’ve made so many positive changes in my life. Let’s see….I know I have…umm…anyway, I know I have.
Oh! I became emotionally available! But then people started to experience me as emotionally self-indulgent.
Aha! I stood up to my family. And now I kinda don’t have a family of origin. Hmm.
I’ve also turned my financial situation around, from totally impoverished as a child and early adult – to be in the top 3% of income earners. Not bad, eh? But it certainly doesn’t make me less stressed or happier. I do have more choices, which is nice but my wife does, too, and now I end up going on unwanted vacations to places I’m not interested in, doing stuff I wouldn’t choose to do.
But I am with her. And I love my wife. There doesn’t seem to be a downside to loving a wonderful woman, imperfections and all.
There would be a downside to falling in love with a woman (or man or other) whose life doesn’t work. But at this moment I feel grateful for the woman I am with.
I didn’t expect this post to go this way, honestly.
Gratitude for my wife and our life together snuck in there and firmly planted itself into my heart and mind and now I am feeling life is only as good as what you appreciate.
Gratitude is the antidote to the as good as it gets paradigm
There’s a whole paradigm that suggests – more or less – that life sucks and by the way, this is as good as it gets. And it’s so easy to believe. Our brains seem to be wired with a preference for predicting the worst.
But brains change on gratitude.
Check out this quote from Positive Psychology
When we express gratitude and receive the same, our brain releases dopamine and serotonin, the two crucial neurotransmitters responsible for our emotions, and they make us feel ‘good’. They enhance our mood immediately, making us feel happy from the inside.https://positivepsychology.com/neuroscience-of-gratitude/
And if you really think about it, issues like imposter syndrome display an unconscious lack of gratitude. When the person with imposter syndrome says, “Yeah, people tell me I did a great job and all but it was just dumb luck,” they are essentially poo-pooing both their effort to succeed and the thoughtfulness of those who recognize it.
Objections to gratitude, anyone?
Now let’s start in on what a scam this whole gratitude thing must be.