In this day and age, it seems like people’s happiness doesn’t just hinge on what they have or how much they have, but what they have and how much they have compared to their friends and neighbors. It is human nature to compare yourself to those around you, but this could be the fastest way to a miserable life.
We have drifted so far from finding and seeking our own way. Like sheep, we tend to follow the crowd. We do what everybody else is doing, wear what everyone else is wearing, and want what everyone else wants. And if someone has something that we don’t have, our level of happiness is impacted until we get what they have. This leads to a lot of unhappiness, anxiousness, and even poor self-esteem.
What’s made things worse is social media. Now, we not only see what others have, as they post pictures and stories highlighting those things, but we also get sucked into believing that their whole life is awesome. Two key issues with this… First, their interests and goals might be (and often should be) much different than ours. Does it make any sense to strive for something that we don’t even really long for deep down? No way! I believe this is one reason that people reach a level of so-called success and then find themselves not only NOT as happy as they thought they would be, but downright miserable.
Second, we don’t even know if the stories we read or the pictures we see are authentic. People tend to exaggerate. And for all you know, that picture of your Facebook “friend” cuddling up with her “amazing” husband could be followed up with him walking away and texting his girlfriend. Comparing yourself to others is a recipe for disaster.
There are two strategies for increased happiness… do more things that make you happy, and avoid things that reduce your happiness. In Sonya Lyubomirsky’s book, The How of Happiness, she gives twelve proven ways to increase your happiness. (And yes, we do have some control over our level of happiness). Strategy number three is “Avoiding overthinking and social comparison: Using strategies (such as distraction) to cut down on how often you dwell on your problems and compare yourself to others.”
Heck, let’s go back to the Ten Commandments. Commandment number ten… Thou shall not covet thy neighbor’s goods. Not only is it a guaranteed way to have your happiness fluctuate from day to day, it is actually sinful.
So, what do we do when we see someone get something newer, better, bigger, faster, or fancier than us? Instead of envy, let’s try awe. How about being impressed with it, and instead of feeling envious or jealous, get motivated by it? I can say that now, when I hear of a friend or someone else achieving something of significance, I am happy for them. I use their victory to expand my mind’s belief system for what is possible for me.
A good friend wrote, finished, and published a book. I have been working on a book for some time. It could be very easy for me to be envious of his accomplishment. He beat me to it. He accomplished something that I have not. Instead, I am thrilled for him. I would do anything I could to help him make that book as successful as possible. Having seen him complete his book only reinforces my belief that I can finish a book.
When you see greatness, achievement, or enhancement around you, know that it means that if they can do it, so can you. You will be more likely to get what they have, or be able to achieve what they have, if you do so with a grateful heart instead of an envious one. Be in awe of others!
If your happiness depends on how you measure up compared to others, your emotional stability and overall happiness will fluctuate from day to day. You will always find someone that is smarter, faster, stronger, richer, and better looking than you. Be in awe of others accomplishments, and let them motivate you, not frustrate you.