I remember a friend of mine once getting married, and throughout the entire planning process, all I could think about was how she was doing it all wrong. I was irritated with her flower choices, the colors she selected, the date she picked for her bridal shower. If it were to be MY wedding, I would have picked pink roses over blue roses, I would have selected ivory table cloths instead of black table cloths, and I would have spent a weekend in the mountains for my bachelorette party. I remember being on the phone with my mom one evening, going off about all of these things that irritated me, and how my friend was going about this wedding planning thing all wrong. My mom stopped me and said, “Britany, why do you care what she is doing? If it makes her happy, as long as it isn’t harming anyone, why do you care?”
…who the girl was is really irrelevant because this kind of situation occurs all the time, and its not just with weddings. Someone wears their new pair of boots, and sensing their excitement, we make some comment about how our new boots are better. Someone gets a new haircut, and seeing their enthusiasm, we tell them their bangs look crooked. Someone jubilantly tells us about a date they went on, and we automatically start questioning his restaurant choice.
These tendencies always stem from a lacking we feel within ourselves; in yoga, we call this ‘asteya’, or non-stealing. In the case of my friend’s wedding, I probably felt a lacking of attention within myself; I was jealous that, anytime we went out, all anyone ever wanted to talk about was her wedding, I was jealous of her excitement that I obviously did not have, so I unfairly judged her decisions. When I notice that girl wearing new boots, and taking the attention away from MY new boots, I feel the need to make hers seem lesser than mine. When I notice my friend’s hair cut actually makes her look pretty hot, I start freaking out that she might get more attention when we go out tonight, so I make that comment about the crooked bangs, to try to startle her confidence level, which hopefully then prevent her from approaching the guys that I can then “have”. When I sense my friend’s excitement that her date went better than planned, and I realize all I attract are douchebags (read Happily Never After for more on that topic!), it’s much easier for me to start criticizing her choices. In a sense, I see my friend’s happiness, and being jealous of that happiness, I attempt to steal her sparkle–kill her happiness so she is just as unhappy as I am.
In life, we are all given all kinds of options and all kinds of preferences. Some of us prefer rap music, and some of us prefer country music. Some of us prefer chocolate ice cream, and some of us prefer Skinny Cow non-fat ice cream. Some of us prefer working out early in the morning, and some of us prefer working out late at night. Or, when it comes time to plan a wedding: some of us prefer big, poofy, princess dresses, and some of us prefer form-fitting, light weight dresses. If we were all the same, life would be boring (and the grocery stores would run out of chocolate ice cream all the time, and the gym would always be packed, and everyone’s wedding pictures would look the same). We are afforded the opportunity to express our individuality, in our physical appearances, the way we choose to spend our leisure time, the kind of activities and people we decide to engage in; these are all just preferences.
Of course, there certainly are times when people’s happiness might be harming others. Like, if my friend gets happiness from setting kittens ablaze, then that’s definitely harming something. Or, if my friend gains happiness by spreading potentially damaging rumors, that’s definitely an inappropriate form of happiness. But, if my friend decides to dye their hair green, do the chicken wing dance, paint her fingernails rainbows, wear cat ears, a feather boa, and pleather pants out, why should I care?
So, when I find myself making judgements about what other people do, I always remind myself of what my mom told me: if it’s not harming anyone, why should I care? If I am caring because I am jealous, I am insecure, I am attempting to fill a void, then that’s really my responsibility to figure out. Its not my right to steal her sparkle. If my friend wants to wear a poofy princess wedding dress, who am I to stand in her way? If my friend wants to write a love letter to her date, why should I tell her ‘no’? If my friend wants to spend her extra cash on a new spoiler for her car, why should I mind?
Don’t steal her sparkle.