Day 17: You can’t please everyone.

I used to spend quite a bit of time worrying about whether or not other people would like what I was doing.

What I eventually came to realize, however, was that there would always be someone who disagreed with what I was doing — and that rather than making decisions based on what would make other people happy, I should focus instead on what made me happy.

The following story comes from the centuries-old Aesop’s Fables. It captures this constant struggle in such a succinct way, and it’s one of the first things I share with someone when they come to me for advice. As you’re reading along, take a moment to consider how it might apply to your own life.

“A man and his son were once going with their donkey to market. As they were walking along, a countryman passed them and said, ‘You fools, what is a donkey for but to ride upon?’ So the man put the boy on the donkey, and they went on their way.
But soon they passed a group of men, one of whom said, ‘See that lazy youngster, he lets his father walk while he rides.’
So the man ordered his boy to get off, and got on himself. But they hadn’t gone far when they passed two women, one of whom said to the other, ‘Shame on that lazy [man] to let his poor little son trudge along.’
The man didn’t know what to do, but at last he [placed] his boy [with] him on the donkey. By this time they had come to the town, and the passersby began to jeer and point at them. The man stopped and asked what they were scoffing at.
The men said, ‘Aren’t you ashamed of yourself for overloading that poor donkey of yours?’”

Yes, there may always be people who are critical of what you do — but this doesn’t mean that you ever have to listen to them.

Jana Marie is a Croatian-born writer living amidst the restorative embrace of the Canadian prairies. Through her writing, she examines the interplay between self and society as she works to both illuminate and explore the power of contemplative thinking. She hopes that 100 Mindful Days, a 100-day project combining teachings from the worlds of personal development, psychology, and spirituality, will soon be her first book.

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