Envying others is a waste of time. Why waste time focused on what someone else has when I could be spending that time on my own happiness?
That being said, I am a person who is prone to impatience and anger. Sometimes, I can become really annoyed by just a comment someone has made, and it baffles those around me. “Why is this such a big deal?”When I examine the source of the anger in retrospect, I realize that there’s a little green-eyed monster underneath after all.
This past weekend I went up to Whistler (about an hour and a half’s drive from where I live) to visit a Scandinavian Spa.
The spa itself was a really neat experience, and it advertises ‘hydrotherapy’ to promote good health:
1. Soak in a hot tub, steam in a steamroom, or sit in a sauna for 15-20 minutes.
2. Immediately immerse in a pool of freezing cold water for 10-20seconds. (this is really painful!)
3. Relax in a solarium for 20-30 minutes.
4. Repeat this process 4 times.
How this is supposed to work is that the sudden change from hot to cold temperature stimulates the body. The above circuit is supposed to eliminate toxins, decrease inflammation (oh thank you), and stimulate circulation.
Immediately after dunking myself in the freezing cold water the first time, I felt this intense energy in my body. It’s really hard to describe. I felt like an ice cream cone – freezing but sharp and energized. My girlfriend called it “a high”. When we went into the solarium to relax, it was like we had performed some vigorous activity that would knock us both out into a serene power-nap.
It was a pretty cool place to be, but during my first round relaxing in the solarium, I glanced enviously around the room. As I lounged on the comfortable recliner in my bathrobe I noticed that all the other guests were so relaxed they had their bare legs or arms flung over their armrest or footrest.
Everyone else had clear, non-problematic skin. Everyone else was smooth and healthy.
I looked at my own spotty skin and covered it up with my robe. I remember thinking, it’s not fair. Why do all of those people have perfect skin. Why do I have to get this stupid skin disease. As I thought this, I looked at the other people and pitied myself. Meanwhile, my girlfriend had passed out, her mouth slightly ajar as she enjoyed her afternoon nap. How lucky she is to not have to worry about such things. How lucky all of my friends are to not have this disease. All they care about is if they have a pimple on their face.
I remained in this state of mind for several more moments. All around me, the room was in silence, filled with only the soft breathing of the other guests against a backdrop of relaxing piano music. If this were a cartoon, there would have been a dark raincloud over my head while everyone else was bathed in sunshine.
As I gazed out at the backdrop of mountains and forest, I realized that I had taken for granted 25 years of healthy skin. When I didn’t have the disease, I never really thought about my skin. (In fact, I always thought I had very problematic skin because I am acne-prone and it’s sensitive.) I wondered whether other psoriasis sufferers in their long pants and long-sleeved shirt had looked at me enviously during the summertime. I wondered whether people who were covered up at the beach envied me being able to dip in the water as I pleased.
Then I thought about what I was taking for granted at that very moment. My eyesight? My hearing? Having all four limbs? A healthy thyroid? Normal organ functions? Good mobility? A healthy state of mind? The financial freedom to come and enjoy luxury places like this on a whim? These are all things I ‘expect’ to have forever, yet so many people don’t have them.
So what use is it that I sit in such a lovely place, bemoaning things I don’t have? It certainly wasn’t making me any happier. The only way to be at peace, is to accept what I cannot change, and be grateful for the things which were still in my life.
The thought I had before I drifted off to sleep was that gratitude is truly what it means to be in the moment. To not worry about the future. To not regret the past. But just to exist, and to be fully thankful for the present.
*cue rays of sunshine shining through and breaking the raincloud*