The #1 Thing That Will Steal Your Joy
“Comparison is the thief of joy”. Theodore Roosevelt knew even back then how comparison robbed him of the good life. Now, more than ever, the cycle of comparing ourselves to others is easy. It’s easy to spin out in jealousy, scarcity, and lack. It sucks you in when you’re watching a romantic comedy, scrolling through your Facebook feed or watching Instagram stories. You see everyone’s highlight reel and you begin the downward spiral of comparing.
Jealousy is the feeling that someone else is winning and we are losing. Someone else has what we can’t have. It comes from a sense of scarcity in our life…the belief that there is not enough of something. It creates envy…a feeling of discontent or resentment because of a longing for someone else’s possessions, qualities, or luck. Sound familiar?
Comparison is the #1 thing that will steal your joy…if you allow it.
Here are 6 things to remember when you start comparing yourself to others and find yourself feeling envious.
Be Aware Of Your Triggers
The first step is to just become aware of what triggers you to start comparing yourself to others. Start noticing situations where you feel a bit jealous. Think about who you have compared yourself to in the last 24 hours. What kinds of things did you see or hear that resulted in you feeling envious? When did you feel like your life paled in comparison to theirs?
Maybe it was when you were scrolling through social media. Or perhaps you were strolling through a high-end neighborhood. Maybe someone was telling you all about their two week trip to Europe or their cross country road trip.
Just notice it.
You Can’t Possibly Know
Remind yourself that unless you’re really close to them, you can’t possibly know what their everyday life is really like. I’ve known many people who appear to have it all together and have a picture perfect life, but are falling apart on the inside. You can’t assume what you see on the outside is actually their reality.
I’m sure we’ve all experienced the shock when we find out a couple that appeared to be super happy was getting divorced. Or when hearing that a family who seems like the Brady Bunch, is going through something like addiction or depression. And when someone seems to be having the time of their life, when in reality they are lonely and dying inside.
Remind yourself that you don’t actually know what goes on behind closed doors.
Focus on Gratitude
When you find yourself in comparison and feeling envious, remind yourself of the good things in your life. Focus on the things you are grateful for in your life. And resist the lies when your brain tries to tell you that your life isn’t enough.
Remind yourself, on a daily basis, of what you have in your life that you love.
Check Your Brain
Our brain is designed to focus on what is wrong. It wants to find what is wrong and fix it. This is a primitive function of our brain. It was necessary for survival back in the caveman days. But as humans, we also have a pre-frontal cortex which enables us to analyze our thoughts.
When we find yourself in comparison, it’s important to use this executive function of your brain.
What is it that you think they are experiencing because they have something you don’t have? You might think they are happier or having more fun or feeling better in general. That’s where jealousy stems from…the thought that they must be so much happier than you because they have ____ and you don’t.
These are just thoughts…which means they are optional. It’s a choice. Instead, we can choose to see another person’s success in life and choose to feel inspired by what is possible.
Use It to Your Advantage
Instead of spiraling into despair, use comparison as motivation to improve what actually matters.
Ask yourself things like “Who do I admire?”
Think about what comparisons might actually be healthy for you and serve you in a positive way. Maybe there is someone who is an amazing mom or wife or friend. They are kind and generous and they make the world a better place. Who inspires you to live a better life in the ways that matter most to you?
Spend your brain juice on those thoughts instead.
Remember That It’s Not a Competition
There’s no success race. Just because someone gets to a certain place in their life or career before you do, doesn’t mean they are better and it certainly doesn’t mean you don’t have what it takes or that you’re not enough.
Compete with yourself instead. Compare yourself only to the person YOU were yesterday or last week. It’s the only way you’re guaranteed to win.
In what areas of your life do you feel envy? What areas of your life do you find yourself comparing your life to that of others? Take notice of it. And then choose thoughts that better serve you. And if all else fails, limit your time on social media for a while so you can get back in touch with YOUR life.
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