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The Art of Living: Why A Well-Lived Life Has Nothing To Do With Being Better Than Others

“A creative man is motivated by the desire to achieve, not by the desire to beat others.” – Ayn Rand

I’ve always dreamed of living a creative life that made a positive, lasting impact on the world.

When I was just a kid, I wanted to be a rock star. Having a strong 401k didn’t matter to me, nor did showing everyone else that I had made something of myself. My reputation and my financial success meant very little to me at that age. As a kid, it’s just in your nature to believe in a better future without comparison or back-stabbing; that usually comes after you’ve been educated.

Meet adulthood. Ah yes, the moment we’re told that “reality” will hit us and that we’ll toss aside the silly notion that we should dream and create. Reputation, financial success, career status, and social life are suddenly the measure of a life well lived. Culture screams, “Forget all that stuff about making a lasting difference; you have to look out for #1!”

When we strive to leave a lasting legacy of hope, we come alive in a journey full of possibilities. If we only live to reach the top of the ladder of success, we will find ourselves empty and hollow at the end of the climb, for no one else is with us to share the view.

Life is art. With each choice, each movement, and each desire, we are creating the future. Life is lived, it’s not observed.

“Don’t think about making art, just get it done. Let everyone else decide if it’s good or bad, whether they love it or hate it. While they are deciding, make even more art.” – Andy Warhol

Andy, Andy, Andy…If only it was as easy as copying and pasting your quote to this post…

The truth is, I want to be adored.

If I’m being completely honest, I want other people to think that I’m important.

What if everyone hates what I create and who I become? The mere idea that I may be a lesser known artist just makes me sick inside…

I like to compete, to win, and to be told that I’m the best. Is it just me? What once was creativity becomes the god of my ego. Rather than to create a life that tells a beautiful story in our own voice, we often strive to drown out the voices of everyone else.

It’s time that I moved past that mentality. Other people were never designed to be my competition; we are all created in the image of God, not of one another.

Will I ever become a famous writer signing autographs at Barnes & Noble and traveling the world to speak at TED conferences? Highly doubtful.

Should I compare my journey, my success, my writing, my career, and my spiritual stature to those who are having more success? Are they the opposition that I must defeat? No. They are living their story. Living my life to “defeat” someone else is like Darth Vader auditioning for the role of Yoda: it just doesn’t work.

Can I still make a difference? Without a doubt.

Should I compare my life (which is the greatest form of art) with the lives of those around me? That’s pointless and it will leave me feeling empty and hollow.

We were meant to live, to create, and to tell a story with our lives that no one else can tell quite the same. Comparison and competition have no place in the art gallery of life.

Are you trying to reach the top of the ladder of success?

What good have you ever accomplished through comparing your life to the lives of others?

If you lived your life free of comparison, what would that look like? Who would you become?