Once upon a time, a long time ago – I don’t know when, in a far away land – I don’t know where, lived a man – I don’t his name, who had a donkey – I know nothing more about the donkey than you do. Anyway, the man had to go on a journey with his ailing parents and so he set off. Along the way, this quartet met a number of people who had strong opinions about the way this young man was travelling.
At first, the young man had asked his parents to sit on the donkey, as they would find the journey difficult to complete. People tutted at the parents – ‘look how cruel they are – their son has to suffer, whilst they travel in luxury’; feeling embarrassed, the parents begged their son to travel on the donkey, whilst they walked. As you can imagine – lots of other people had a lot to say about this! ‘Look at that shameless man, letting his elderly parents walk, whilst he travels in luxury’. Needless to say, the son dismounted, and they all continued their journey on foot. A few hours later, they met a new group of people who sneered, ‘Look at these foolish people, they have a perfectly good donkey and yet nobody is riding it’. Hearing this, the son and his parents all clamboured onto the donkey and continued. As they continued, they were then met with a new group of outraged people, with yet more opinions! ‘Look at these cruel people! All three of them on the donkey? Donkeys have rights too, they should be carrying the donkey! So, that’s what they did. The son and his parents, continued the rest of their journey, by carrying their donkey – to the amusements, jeers and sneers of the rest of the world.
This is the story of 90% of the people in this world. No, truthfully – we are all that young man embarking on our journey. We have family and friends with us, travelling on our journeys. And of course, we have the rest of the world – telling us how to conduct ourselves, and giving us their ‘twopence’ worth of unsolicited advice about how we should live our lives, and how we should be treating our metaphorical donkeys.
This is how the story should have gone…
A long time ago, in a far away land, a young man and his parents had to go on a journey. As his parents found it difficult to travel, the young man made them sit upon their donkey. The journey was tricky – but they got there. The End.
There are two lessons to be learnt from this story. First of all – stop caring about what people think, and what will people say. Only you know what is right for you, and as long as you make decisions with integrity, and knowing that you are doing the best for you and your family – who cares what everyone else thinks? People only see things from their perspective anyway. They don’t care what you’ve been through. They don’t care where you need to go. They just want to comment, and make you modify your behaviour, so that it makes them happy. They don’t care about you.
Secondly, we all are guilty, at some level, of commenting on other people. But let’s think about this, if we all have our own journeys, with our own bespoke donkeys to complete, why the heck do we even worry about what someone else is doing with their donkey?
I like talking to people who mind their own donkeys and are very certain about how they will complete their own journeys. These people are goal-focussed and interesting. Their journeys in life are interesting. They don’t care about what people are doing -their whole perspective of life is different. They aren’t people’s business orientated – there is a glow that emits from them, as they are busy creating their own lives. They visit interesting places. They read interesting books. They meet interesting people. They are spontaneous. And they live a rich life. These are my type of people.
I’m not holding myself up as a paragon of virtue by any means. However, as I become older, the less I care about what other people think. If they don’t pay my bills, feed me and clothe me – they haven’t got a right to comment upon how I choose to live my life. And if they do choose to give me some commentary about my life, that I didn’t even ask for, I merrily ignore them because I am perfectly happy about the way I live my life, and have taken great pains to ensure that I am living the life that I want.
People always judge others by their own value system – everything is skewered by this. No one is truly objective because everyone has pre-conceived ideas in this first place. All I will say is this – life is a wonderful, challenging, bittersweet, exciting journey for everyone. Live yours according to what feels right for you. Make decisions informed by what you know is right for you – not according to the gospel of everyone else. Follow your instincts. Live with integrity. And most importantly, ignore those people who would happily judge you and look forward to seeing you fail. Don’t listen to them, don’t react to them, because without your reaction they are powerless.
But the most important message I will say is – leave others alone. You have your own life to live. Your own goals to achieve. Your own happiness to focus on. Don’t comment upon others and how they choose to live their lives, just because it isn’t what you would do. Who cares? We will only live this life once. So make sure you focus on yourself. Not anybody else. Focus on being happy and spreading happiness around you.