Ellen DeGeneres celebrated her 60th birthday this year. During her birthday episode of The Ellen DeGeneres Show, her wife Portia shared that every few years Ellen has confided in her the worry, ‘I feel like I’m not doing enough.’ This is a woman whose life’s work is about helping people and making them laugh!
So, what about the rest of us? Do you ever wonder if you’re “doing enough”?
The real question.
We can probably all agree that what Ellen feels is in no relation to the number of obligations that make up her week or how many hours of her day are spent doing the mundane tasks that, yes, even a celebrity must do. Of course, we all do enough of that kind of stuff! The real question here comes when we dig a little deeper and instead ask ourselves, “Is my life making an impact?”
How do we ever know the answer to that question?
What are we doing for others?
We can’t all be millionaire philanthropists or traveling missionaries giving of ourselves to the masses as our life’s work. The good that we do and the way we make a difference often isn’t something that jumps out at us. And honestly, in the moments when we become reflective of our lives, that can make us feel useless.
When really, the impact we make is so abundant and easy to see – we just don’t know where to look.
The smile your child makes when he reads the note you packed in his lunch. The friend that gets your voicemail telling her how much you miss her at the exact moment when she needs it most. The relief your small group leader feels when you offer to bring the meal to the next gathering. It may sound simple, but those small moments of kindness and selflessness do make a difference in the lives we touch and the world as a whole.
What are we doing for ourselves?
Frederick Buechner is an American writer and theologian that said, “Purpose is the place where your deep gladness meets the world’s needs.” Anyone who is living her life to her greatest happiness will tell you this is so true.
When we make time for the things that matter most to us, the world seems to get the best version of us. We’re less irritated and more joyful. We have less anxiety and more calmness. We’re simply happier and able to focus, more than being grouchy and distracted.
So making choices that put us in the best place possible to feel proud, grateful, happy and filled with purpose are not just to our own benefit. This is because creating impact for others and the world around us happens more often and more naturally when we feel fed by the life we’re living.
What does “enough” look like for you?
When you hear someone like Ellen DeGeneres question if she is doing enough in the world, how in the heck are we supposed to feel when we compare her “enough” to our own? The answer is simple.
There is no comparison!
Everyone’s abilities, resources, and time are completely different, and it’s never a competition. We are all making a difference in different ways.
When we talk about our lives, it’s the everyday moments and rhythm of those twenty-four-hour segments where our focus tends to be. It’s easy to forget that life is just what happens when we add all of those smaller time frames together. When we, instead, put down the magnifying glass and step back to look at our life, we see how truly important our existence is and the impact we have made, and continue to make, on the people and the world around us.