“Perhaps you are overvaluing what you don’t have and undervaluing what you do.” — Jordan Peterson
There are only so many things we can be capable of. It’s a concept we’ve discussed multiple times before: nobody is perfect because a perfect person makes everybody else useless. What we haven’t discussed, however, is the idea that we often spend so long looking towards things to gain that we don’t appreciate the things we already have.
Because we’re raised in a society that’s often encouraging us to be better and strive for more, we almost never take the time to appreciate what we already have. Oftentimes this leads us to forgetting our virtues, which prevents us from building upon that and improving upon those.
A good analogy I heard once is that virtuous behaviour is like owning a gun. Even if you’re a really good shot and can nail the target every time, you’re still going to get rusty if you don’t practice. This doesn’t mean you can just hang the gun up on the wall either — you have to actively use it and practice the drills and protocols that go along with it. The same applies to virtues. What we have can’t simply be admired, it must be put to use as well. Saying you’re a disciplined person doesn’t hold any value if you can’t prove it.
It’s also important to remember that the things that other people have weren’t earned easily either. They most likely didn’t just wake up with a magnificent ability one day; they worked and disciplined themselves to become better at whatever it is they’re good at. Appreciation of this fact is a necessary part of growth and self development, but obsession over another’s talents is the pathway to our downfall.
To summarize: satisfaction and growth comes from an appreciation of what you do have and a humble acknowledgement of what you don’t. Try not to confuse the two.
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