Choose thankfulness over envy

Choosing thankfulness over envy is a practical way I have found more satisfaction in my art. I'm thinking specifically in the context of creating art, but the same principle applies in other areas of life. 

Spend your time thinking about what you have been given, how glad you are about that, and how excited you are to use those things for good. For example, I have a piano, and I am so thankful that I do. I'm glad that I have a piano, fingers to play it, ears to hear it play, a microphone to record it. I'm excited to play it and write music with it. 

If you consider what you have been given, you will think of things that you haven't thought about before. You will realize that it's not fair to assume that you were going  to get them, but you did. Realizing this is like being given the thing all over again! 

If you do not consider what you have been given, you will forget them. You will assume that you were always going to get them and that you will always have them, and they fall out of your mind. Forgetting that you have something is like not having it at all! 

More and more I am convinced that comparison is the enemy of joy. The benefits of comparison are spoken of often, with motivation and confidence as the main ones. But the drawbacks of comparison exceed the benefits. 

When you compare your art to the art of another, you will either feel superior or inferior. I suppose it is possible to compare by pointing out similarities and differences and not arriving at any verdict, but let us be honest with ourselves: comparison usually leads to a verdict. 

Both outcomes are bad. If you feel superior, it will puff you up with pride. Perhaps it may make you confident, but I do not think that is the kind of confidence you want. Furthermore, it may also sap your motivation to improve because you feel you are good enough. 

If you feel inferior, it will crush your confidence. Perhaps it may motivate you to improve, but it is a desperate, insatiable, envious kind of motivation. There will always be someone to compare yourself to who will look better than you. 

Comparison leads to misery because it sets up a division where no division is necessary. Why does your art need to be better than the art of another? It doesn't. Why do you need to be at odds with another? Is joy something that if they have, you can't have it? Is it a limited commodity? No. 

Is your joy only possible if someone else is miserable? No. In fact, it would be more true to say that your joy is only possible if someone else is joyful. Whereas comparison sets up a division, love builds a connection. 

This connection reverses the drawbacks of comparison. Now, the other person is no longer a source of misery for you, and they can even be a source of joy. You can learn from them and be inspired by them without feeling bad about yourself. You can teach them and enjoy helping another person. You can still encourage one another along even though you are not competing! 

You can enjoy their art and be thankful for it, without being envious. You can even find joy in their joy, because there is no longer division between you but connection. You can honestly long for their success, and share in the victory and celebration when it comes. 

A heart at peace gives life to the body, but envy rots the bones. 

Proverbs 14:30