This great secret of life will
Writer/philosopher Henry David Thoreau, in the early 1800s, said "Most men live lives of quiet desperation." Thoreau could have included women, too.
This secret is especially important for single people to grab onto. We often believe that friends and relatives are as happy and carefree as they act, and that there must be something wrong with us because we don't feel as chipper as they seem most of the time.
Some self-help writers claim that if you act happy, soon you'll feel happy. Or maybe you'll just feel like an idiot. Seriously, there's a certain amount of truth in that idea, but it can be carried to extremes. If you're suffering from chronic depression or grief, you need to go to your doctor as soon as possible and discuss the situation with her.
Men, especially, are loathe to express their feelings, even to themselves. Our culture has put up a false set of standards that men should always be strong, brave, and stoic. That's why we have tough guys who are alcoholics, cigarette smokers, and drug addicts.
In his insightful book Arise from Darkness, Father Benedict Groeschel, a wise old Franciscan friar, says:
Singles quickly learn (or some of us take years to learn) that nobody likes a whiner. That's why we all say we're fine. You may have a few good friends you can unburden yourself to, and vice versa, but it scares people off like the plague if you go around telling your tale of woe to everyone. You soon begin to wonder why people seem to be avoiding you.
The real secret here is that no matter how confident other people seem, no matter how controlled, charming, or strong they may be, they all have doubts about themselves, just like you do.
In her December 2005 appearance on Late Night with David Letterman, even Oprah Winfrey confessed that it was only five years earlier that she finally stopped worrying about what would happen to her if she lost her job. Most of us know that Oprah is now a very rich woman, but she came from an impoverished background, and it took 15 years of phenomenal success for her to overcome that.
Knowing this secret can help you feel better about yourself. You're not alone in having self-doubt. Everyone has it. You're not alone in thinking you're in over your head in many situations. Everyone feels that way at times. And you're not alone in feeling lonely.
This is one of those truths that can set you free. You're no longer competing against other people, but only against yourself. You don't have to be awe-struck in the presence of others because you now know that they're not as together as you used to think.
And if you're a Christian, you begin to understand that Jesus Christ loves you just for who you are, with all of your shortcomings and doubts. His unconditional love should feel empowering to you. It should give you confidence in yourself and your future.
You begin to look at others with more understanding and kindness. You realize that people often do desperate things because they don't have it all together, even if they seem to.
Once you lay hold of this Secret, you can use it to treat yourself and others better. You develop compassion for both yourself and people around you. And being compassionate makes you a more authentic, attractive person.
And isn't that what we all want for ourselves?
So reflect on this truth for the next couple days. Cut other people some slack. And cut yourself even more slack. We're all struggling here, and we owe that to each other.