There’s an old saying that goes, “If at first you don’t succeed, lower your standards.”

Well, not exactly, but there’s some truth there. I’m not talking about clinical depression, bipolar disorder, PYTT (post–yom tov trauma) or even KTW (KabbalaToon withdrawal). Just what people call a lack of self-esteem, a sense of inadequacy, or plain-vanilla generic misery over being who I am and not someone else, every single day of the week.

The truth is, you have to know where you stand. Because if you don’t know where you stand, and you keep on moving, don’t be surprised if you fall off a cliff.

Where am I? If I am alive, I’m climbing a mountain. Life is hard, because good stuff is always uphill. That’s what makes life so beautiful—like mountain climbing, the view keeps getting bigger and wider as long as you can keep your eyes open. Even better than mountain climbing—because, in life, even when you fall down, you end up with a better view. Actually, sometimes that’s what gets you the best views.

Where does most of the misery in life happen? When I convince myself that I’m at the top already. When I start to imagine that “I have arrived.” Hey, who likes the feeling of “I haven’t arrived”?

But that’s not good. Because when I imagine I’m already at the peak, every failure becomes an avalanche. When I set unreasonable expectations, loving myself becomes harder than loving Weetabix™ for breakfast. When I figure I deserve everything, even crepes suzette for breakfast can’t satisfy me.

So if I repeatedly don’t measure up to snuff, maybe it’s time to trade in my XL measuring rod for something a little more modest.

I need to know I’m a little guy taking on a big mountain. I need to know just where I stand on that mountain, and then I can map out a reasonable plan to get a little further uphill. If I slip and fall once in a while, I have to be able to say, “Look, that’s where I’m at right now—climbing a mountain. Some days, hey, I’m up, I’m dressed—what more do you want? Some days, I’ve got a hand from above helping me along. And some days, I actually manage to climb up on my own. Slowly, I’m moving forward and upward. Hey, nice view!”

That’s how you get around low self-esteem: by delighting in the little steps forward. By celebrating the accomplishments of a not-yet-so-ultimate you. By taking nachas (that’s Jewish for a warm and gooey feeling inside) in where you are today—but never for where you think you’ll be tomorrow.

Can you get to the top of the mountain? Yes, you can! Should you be clobbering yourself for not standing there today? No, you should not.

Today, I refrained from verbopummeling Feivel for his antics. I stayed calm and patiently explained to that nudnik Freeman character why I can’t say the nonsensical lines he had scripted for me. For me, knowing where I stand on the mountain right now, that’s two slam dunks.

Be small, accomplish big things, enjoy life.