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Stop Comparing Yourself to Others

by Beth on June 8th, 2016

One of the best things you can do to increase your happiness is to stop making social comparisons. I realize this is easier said than done. We are social creatures who naturally compare ourselves to others. We evaluate our own worth by looking at how it stacks up against others. Are we as smart, attractive, wealthy, successful, happy as they are?

When we compare ourselves with others, the happier they are, the less happy we feel. If they are successful, we, in comparison, feel less successful. Social media has taken this to a whole new level. We are constantly bombarded with images of how wonderfully perfect everyone else’s life is.

You do know people only put the good stuff on Facebook, right? I admit I’m guilty of doing the same. But even though I “know” that the images I see on Facebook don’t represent the whole picture, I can’t help but form this impression that everyone else out there is having more fun than I am. My daughter is still in school right now, but I’m scrolling through pictures of friends who are at the beach, visiting the Tower of London, and taking a gondola ride through Venice. Social media makes it really easy for us to fall into the social comparison trap. That’s why using Facebook increases depression for some people.

Happy people focus on their own internal standards to judge themselves, setting their own goals and celebrating the progress they make. They aren’t constantly comparing themselves to others. They can take pleasure in someone else’s joy, because they don’t see another’s success as their failure.

It’s impossible to completely avoid social comparison. And, personally, I like to keep up with friends and family on Facebook. But you can make an effort to not evaluate your own worth based on what other people have or do. And if looking at all of those smiling faces on social media makes you sad, try to limit the amount of time you spend online.

Pay more attention to your life and less attention to the lives of others. Be grateful for all that you have. There are so many good things in your life. You may miss them if you are focused on others.

From → Gratitude, Well-being

  1. Beth, I think these are really important points you’ve made. I notice that one of the challenges I have in teaching university classes concerns the way that students compare themselves to others. For example, a student who thinks “If she’s doing so well in the class, then my own performance is probably going to be graded downward because I don’t compare well.” I have to work hard to create an atmosphere that implies “We can all succeed here” and that allows for some variance in how one’s own excellence in learning is demonstrated.

  2. Beth permalink

    Hi Mark, I’m sure students do tend to compare their grades. Many of them have been graded on a curve where their grade did depend on other students’ grades. I’m glad you are trying to create a different climate in your classroom!

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