Ever since the 1980 presidential election when Ronald Reagan asked Americans, “Are you better off now than you were four years ago?” someone has asked the same question every time the electorate considers who should be president for the next four years. Of course, the context of the question has to do with the economy. If the economy is struggling in an election year, the nominee of the opposing political party, challenging the status quo, asks the voters to compare their situations between then & now.
How about you? Are you better off now than you were four years ago?
Before you answer that, let’s back up. When I ask if you’re better off now than you were four years ago, I’m actually not talking about how you’re coping under the challenges presented by a weak economy.
I’m talking about you.
Here are some Yes or No questions…
Are you a more optimistic person than you were four years ago?
Are you mentally tougher than you were four years ago?
Are you a better friend than you were four years ago?
Are you more genuine and transparent than you were four years ago?
Is your marriage a higher priority to you than it was four years ago?
Do you worry less than you did four years ago?
Do you have, and live by, an improved understanding of what it means to love others than you did four years ago?
Are you guilty of fewer double standards (rules that you apply to others, but not to yourself) than four years ago?
Are you blaming things and other people less than you did four years ago?
Are you more serious about your faith than you were four years ago?
Are you doing more to get and stay healthy than you were doing four years ago?
Are you ruled by emotions less than you were four years ago?
Are you less quick to judge than you were four years ago?
Are you more flexible and “go-with-the-flow” than you were four years ago?
Are you more joyful than you were four years ago?
Based upon the overall trend of your choices and their results of the last four years, would you vote for four more years of the same?
You see, it’s really not about the economy. Plenty of people find that they are better off now than they were four years ago… even though the economy has dealt them some real financially challenging cards. It’s all about the mindset. Your mindset – your own spiritual, mental, emotional, physical economy – has much more to do with how you’re doing, overall, than the national unemployment numbers, interest rates, housing figures, or the Dow Jones.
The way you answered the above questions, and others like them, is a great barometer of whether or not things have improved for you. The more questions you answered with a Yes, the better off you are now than you were four years ago. No doubt about it.
Sadly, many of the people who say No to questions like the above have – and this is not a coincidence – also put energy into creating and articulating a narrative about their lives that somehow places the blame upon other people and/or circumstances for why they’ve answered No. But look again at the questions. They all have everything to do with you and your choices. None of them have anything to do with anyone else or anything else. Only you. You are the only one responsible for any No answers you may have given.
Isn’t it interested how, in our aversion to deal with pain and unpleasantness, we resist taking personal responsibility for our personal struggles? We’d rather ignore them, get and remain angry about them, and blame others for them, than acknowledge the obvious: The common denominator of all the things keeping me from the life I want… is me!
Same with you. You and your choices are in the middle of all of the lingering things about your life that you’re not happy about.
Some will read the above fact – somewhat of a reality check – and will stand up and do something about it, maybe for the first time ever. If that’s you, congratulations. There are plenty more tools contained in many of the other articles here to help in your journey. Conversely, there will be others who will read this and slide deeper into their pit of blame and recrimination.
To be continued…