One night while out to dinner with my dad, he called the waiter over and proclaimed, “This meal was absolutely delicious. Please tell the chef it was the best I’ve ever had.”
I’d seen him go through that routine dozens of times. You could call it one of his quirks. Whenever he felt someone did something particularly awesome, he’d let them know. And that night, it suddenly clicked in my brain why he did. Mostly, because he explicitly told me.
“Meghan, you know why I do that don’t you? People rarely ever hear when they do a good job. Most of the feedback they receive is negative. So if someone impresses you, be sure to let them know. You may be the only person who ever tells them that, and it will mean the world to them.”
And I did. From that moment on I made it a point to let people know when they exceeded expectations. Speakers. Teachers. Artists. Chefs.
But just the other day, I realized I’ve completely neglected an entire group of people.
With our wedding less than three weeks away, I’ve been feeling an all too common feeling: the urge to slow down. Not because things are unusually hectic. But because all of these important moments are happening — getting the keys to our first home together, choosing our rings, picking up my dress — and I’m moving too fast to enjoy any of them.
We all are.
We live our lives like we’re on a conveyor belt. Constantly moving forward with never a break or even a pause. Every, single waking moment we fill with something. Working. Cooking. Eating. Cleaning. Talking. Exercising. Blow drying. Shopping. Even our forms of relaxing — reading, listening to music and watching TV — require our brains to be active.
There’s rarely — if ever — a single moment in our days when we do absolutely nothing and let our brains just be. The closest we get is when we’re in the shower. So it’s no wonder it’s when all of our best ideas happen. It’s the only time we ever get to think.
Or is it natural? We all assume envy is as unavoidable as the post-Thanksgiving bloat. No matter how hard we try to fight it, our human frailty will always kick in. But that’s not the case. Envy can easily be conquered, and it’s nowhere near as difficult to avoid as seconds — or thirds — on turkey day.
The secret? Belief.
We feel envy for one reason. We don’t think we’ll ever get the thing we want — whatever it may be. But where there is a will, there is a way.
If you truly want something, you can get it. Even if you think your time has passed. It’s never too late to get in shape, find a new career or go on your dream vacation. And if convention is holding you back, screw it. If you fantasize about throwing your dream wedding, do it. Who cares if you’re already married. If you daydream about owning a shiny, new convertible, go for it. Who cares if people think you’re having a mid-life crisis.
The secret to life — and conquering envy — is doing what makes you happy.
So whenever those envious emotions start bubbling to the surface, remind yourself of why you feel them. You want that thing. So go for it.
Your envy will magically disappear.
Added Bonus: The more you go for the things you envy, the less envy you’ll feel. Why? Because you’ll no longer view things from the negative perspective of coveting. Instead, you’ll start to see them from the positive perspective of, “Wow. What a great idea to try.”
On a side note, how awesome is the Queen’s costume in the new movie “Snow White and the Huntsman?” And her throne. Wow.
I can’t believe it. I’m getting married. It’s official. Everything is booked. Our flights. Our venue. Our photographer. And in just two months we’ll be taking off. I feel like shouting at the top of my lungs out of pure excitement and relief.
This has been a long journey.
A journey I’ve debated whether or not to share, but I’ve decided to go ahead because the takeaway is so inspiring. I hope it will strengthen your faith in good outcomes as it has completely renewed mine. So here we go.
When Brent and I first got engaged on New Years, I had the most vivid vision of us getting married in front of a small, old, stone chapel overlooking the sea with a reception at a villa similar to the Villa del Balbianello, made famous by Star Wars and Casino Royal.
Why? I had no idea. Never once had I dreamed about my wedding. But for some reason it felt so right, and when I told Brent about it, he said it was absolutely perfect — what he’d been picturing.
So we set out looking for it. And we looked. And we looked. Turns out there aren’t any stone chapels or villas overlooking the sea here in New England. At least, we couldn’t find any. And going international would mean our friends and family would have had a hard time making it. So we let go of our dreams, booked a different venue and planned a wedding our friends and family could easily attend.
But the universe, God, had other plans.
For a number of reasons, we had to cancel it all. Sadness loomed for weeks, and after much back and forth, we decided to elope on a honeymoon and throw a big wedding for everyone a year later.
So the looking began again. We looked at Fiji and Bora Bora. New Zealand and Australia. The Caribbean and the Maldives. England and Ireland. France and Italy. But nothing was clicking. We started to think we’d never get married. And then, completely by accident, I stumbled across the most perfect villa.
There was just one problem. It was in Croatia.
Anyone who payed attention during the early 90s will remember the Croatian War of Independence, and the last I’d heard the country was still being de-mined. So I almost ditched the idea. But then, curiosity got the best of me.
I started by looking into Croatia. Turns out it’s safe. Awesome. Then I looked into the island where the villa was located. It’s safe. Even more awesome. Then I looked up photos of the island, and I nearly wept out of shock, joy, awe and thanks.
My vision — our vision — was staring me right in the face.
Dotting the Croatian coast, you can find a plethora of small, old, stone chapels overlooking the sea, and in just two months we’ll be married in front of one. And later that night, we’ll celebrate in a stunning villa just down the road.
Wait a second. I have to pinch myself. It’s too good to be true. Yet it’s going to happen. It’s real, and the message rings loud and clear.
If everything in your life seems to be falling apart, don’t lose hope. Something even better than you had planned is waiting for you down the road. You just need to keep the faith, and most importantly, be open to new opportunities.
Dreams rarely come to fruition as planned. None of mine have. All too often, what we think is a string of bad luck ends up being the pathway to our dreams.
Of course, I say that with two months to go. Disaster could still be on the horizon. But I’m going to keep the faith, and believe in happy endings.
Before making any big decision, I always pray asking — no, let’s be honest — begging for a sign. And I know I’m not alone. Tons of other people — maybe even you — get down on their knees calling on the Almighty to send them a sign, any sign, that will show them which path to choose. But lately, I’ve been questioning that method.
Instead of asking the universe whether or not we should do something, shouldn’t we be asking ourselves?
Why do we put our life in the hands of the universe? Or in reality, some stranger, cloud or crack in the sidewalk we happen to pass that day? My guess: to displace responsibility. After all, if things turn out terribly wrong, it’s not our fault. The universe told us to do it.
But we can’t be that bad at making decisions, can we?
It should be easy. We simply need to ask ourselves: Does this feel right?
And that’s the problem. What if we don’t know? It could be right. It could be wrong. Who can tell?
We can. Deep down inside we know what feels right. We just may not want to hear the answer. But we know, and if we give ourselves a little time — and listen very, very hard — the correct answer will bubble to the surface.
But just in case, God, if you’re reading this, it’d be great if you could shoot me a quick sign.