We’ve all been there, late night scrolling in the darkness, face illuminated by the pale eerie light of our phone screens, comparing our life with that of our friends, family and even total strangers (‘You have the same amount of hours in a day as Beyonce’). You end up drifting off to sleep filled with feelings of worthlessness and frustration – not exactly the best bedtime routine!
Human beings seem hardwired to compare themselves to others and the rise of social media is just a new forum for our envy and our anxieties. But how harmful is this mindset?
Envy is the religion of the mediocre. It comforts them, it soothes their worries, and finally, it rots their souls, allowing them to justify their meanness and their greed until they believe these to be virtues. Carlos Ruiz Zafón
When we start to obsessively compare ourselves to others and allow ourselves to be jealous of others’ happiness, we close ourselves off instead of opening up. Our self-worth takes a hit and we start to see the world as a wholly unfair place with no opportunities for us. This is a harmful mindset.
So, how can you turn this outlook on its head?
Take inspiration from your friends. The way we perceive things is a very powerful tool, one not to be under-estimated. Instead of feeling envious about a close friend’s promotion use it as a way to focus yourself on your own goals. Speak with your friend about her journey and what she thinks led to her success. Be humble, ask for advice!
Define what success actually means to you. It’s easy to have an internalised idea of success as wearing designer suits everyday to your corporate job in Canary Wharf, but the reality of that life may not be for you. Work out what makes you happy and pursue it as hard as you can. And if you’re not sure what makes you happy yet don’t be afraid to try new things. The average person changes jobs 12 times in their career and it’s no longer looked down on by employers in the way it might have been 30 years ago.
Watch the documentary ‘Happy’ (it’s on Netflix). This sweet film lays out the argument that once basic necessities like food and shelter are provided for, economic factors have very little to do with how satisfied human beings feel about their lives by interviewing different people all over the globe.
Whilst LinkedIn may be a necessary evil for networking, social media is notorious for breeding insecurities and making you feel jealous of others’ happiness. Always remember that Instagram, Facebook and Twitter are all curated and never show the full picture of someone’s life. If you find yourself forgetting this, start to limit your scrolling time!
Read this year’s World Happiness Report compiled by the Happiness Research Institute. This report ranks 156 countries on how happy their populations perceive themselves to be. It’s interesting to see the different factors that impact on people’s happiness and observe how global happiness has changed over the last few years.
Be grateful. Life isn’t supposed to be easy; the times when we struggle are when we really start to learn and grow as people. Try to look at everything (even difficult situations) as an opportunity to pursue something new and exciting.