I stare at people. All the time.
I watch them as they walk by me and try to envision how much better their life must be.
I create this elaborate story in my mind of how much happier their life must be.
I watch wives with their husbands… husbands with their wives.
I watch them love each other and hold hands in public. I get sick from imagining that I 0might never get to see something like that.
Did I not deserve happiness like they had?
I look at friends who are well off and not constantly stressed about money and wonder how much better my life would be if I could step into their situation for a minute.
Just one minute.
One minute without my stress, without my anxiety, without my financial woes, without the loneliness of a failed marriage.
Just one minute.
But I must live with this, and the salt in my wounds is watching everyone else around me flourish while I’m sinking into my misery.
Then I realized…
My misery was optional.
I couldn’t understand that concept at first, but the more I realized how I was harming myself, the more I found ways to help me battle those thoughts.
What I’ve learned… above all… is that…
Comparison kills happiness.
Comparison kills hopes, dreams, marriages, ambitions, drive, motivation- and the list goes on!
Therefore, comparison has a way of robbing us of our joy at the moment and true gratefulness for all we have because we’re worried about what is going on in someone else’s life.
I am so guilty of this!
I assume everyone is living a life better than I am simply because I’m looking at what they want to show me.
Here is how I defeat the green-eyed monster of jealousy and comparison to find true happiness.
7 essential tips to maximize your happiness and live your best life!
First, gratefulness needs to be more than just a moment. It needs to be a whole lifestyle change. I have an app on my phone that sends me reminders to jot down the things I’m grateful for. Therefore, I make lists of at least 3 things that I find irreplaceable in my life and keep that list close.
Action step: Write down 5 things you are grateful for today. Why are those things so special to you? Journal about the blessing those things are to you. Then, find a way to make this a habit. Do you need a notebook or a jar to keep them in? Find a way that works for you to keep reminding you of what you’re grateful for.
Talk about it
Comparison can bring you to a point of no return in your mental health. You can find yourself becoming jealous of good friends and treating them differently because of how you’re feeling. Sometimes, jealousy and comparison can cause depression and anxiety and may make you feel like life isn’t fair. Being open with your friends or counselor about how you’re feeling can help bring perspective to your situation.
Action step: Talk to a trusted friend or counselor about what you’re feeling. How is comparing yourself to others affecting your momentum forward?
Compare yourself… to yourself.
This is a wonderful time to track how far you’ve come. Who you are today is not the same as who you were 5 or 10 years ago. You are growing, learning, and taking experiences that are changing your perspective and concept of life. This is a great time to really track how far you’ve come and how much farther you must go.
Action Step: write a poem or a letter reintroducing yourself to yourself. What is some advice you would give to your younger self? How can you honor your growth and changes that you didn’t expect would occur?
There’s room for everyone
If there’s anything that helps us in fostering envy of others is the concept that success is an enormous pie. You may believe that some get bigger slices than others which leaves you with whatever life may hand you. As overwhelming as that perception may be, it’s actually not true! You will achieve the success that you strive for! If you are relentless in your goals, then whatever you imagine can come to fruition. However, believing someone else’s success somehow threatens yours is a dysfunctional mindset and will keep you stuck where you are. So, publish that book [we can never have too many books] or start that Youtube channel [there’s plenty of room for that] and make your waves!
Action Step: If you could do anything in the world, your wildest dream, what would that be? What is a baby step that you can take today to turn that dream into a goal? Journal about it first to get your thoughts together, then share it with a friend to hold you accountable.
Pray for others and be happy for them
When I see friends and family flourishing, I pray for them. It took serious thought and training to do it, but with some accountability, I have been able to shift my view on how I pray for others. People all around you are fighting a battle you can’t see. Although they may put on a brave show of a perfect marriage or a perfect home, they may be struggling with fighting all the time or dealing with crushing debt. I pray for the unseen. I ask God to meet a need that they are not disclosing to others. And if everything looks well, I pray overflow for them! I pray that they don’t have enough room to receive the blessings he sends! And imagine… Someone could be praying that prayer over you!
Action Step: Pen a prayer for a friend that you know intimately. Ask God for an abundance in their success and to fill the needs that they may not be voicing. Get very specific with the information you know and intercede for this friend.
In the book “Lost Connections” by Johann Hari, the author provides a meditation that can radiate joy in your life through and through. However, I will detail some of it here and hopefully, it will also help with the daily fight of comparison and finding true happiness.
*Imagine something great happening to you, like falling in love. Feel that emotion through and through.
*Then, imagine that great thing happening to a close friend. Keep feeling that same level of love through you.
*Now, imagine that great thing happening to a stranger. Continue to feel the rush of love in you.
*Then, imagine that great thing happening to someone who isn’t very nice. Still, feel that rush of love radiating through you.
*Now, imagine that great thing happening to someone you are enemies with or think is the worst person imaginable. Continue to feel that love radiating through you.
Action Step: This is an extremely difficult activity to do. However, once you’ve made it to the last level, you will find yourself no longer comparing yourself, but just being happy for others. Meditate like this for 15 minutes a day and watch how it changes your perspective!
Trust God to meet your needs
Last, and the hardest, is trusting God’s timing. We really try to retain control of our lives and when we feel out of control, we are terrified. However, if we are intentionally leaving things to God’s will, we will have whatever it is we need.
God, as our father, is always looking for good gifts to give us that we deserve. You might be praying for a man and that may not be the best thing. You might be praying for a job that could eventually lay you off.
When God is silent on His answer to your prayers, there is a protection in that silence. There is room for you to grow to be the person you need to be for that prayer request. There is hope that God is going to do exactly what He says He will and will only give you what you need in the perfect time.
When you see that couple sharing a plate at a restaurant while you eat alone, trust Him.
When you see friends buying their homes and their new cars and you’re still renting, trust Him.
When you see people graduating from school, but you haven’t been to a registration office yet, trust Him.
When people around you are having babies and you are still waiting for your blessing, trust Him.
God is in it all. He’s in the pain of the wait and the joy of the receiving.
Action Step: journal a prayer to God of gratefulness for what He is going to do for you and how he’s going to fill your needs. Thank Him for where you are right now, hopeful for His interception in your life, but content that you are where you are supposed to be.