We’re in a shopping centre, I’m pushing my daugher in her buggy and we’re chattering away. She stops talking and suddenly wails, pointing at another child who has passed us. “That girl has a lollipop why don’t I?”. I deal with it in a motherly way (No, I don’t rush to buy her a lollipop). I explain. She whimpers until she finds something else interesting to talk about or covet.
We’re not dissimilar this small girl and I. She’s comparing herself to the girl with the lollipop and identifying that it’s lacking in her life. I do exactly the same, just not with lollipops, but with things that I want just as much as she wants lollipops.
The stay at home mum spending time with her kids. A thigh gap. The perfectly done makeup. The new car. The positive equity. The nanny. The perfect figure. The 10km runs completed. The five star hotels. The jeans I saw in the magazine. The big house. The tidy kitchen. The manicure. The time to do things. The headspace. The peace and quiet. The cake.
I can’t help myself.
You probably can’t either.
You compare yourself to others. To your family, your friends, your colleagues, your enemies, strangers. Everyone.
You see someone with something you’d like and you’re the three-year-old who sees the unfairness in the the world’s lollipop distribution.
It’d like to blame social media, but it’s around a lot longer than that.. Maybe it’s in our faces more now? Maybe it’s in my face more now? It starts young.
“Every else in my class has a phone, why can’t I?”
“Is he very much taller than me?”
“He always wins the races”
Comparing, contrast. Faster, Bigger, Stronger, Shinier, Richer. Happier?
The comparisons always fall to us coming out badly, where we’re unfair to ourselves. Too hard on ourselves.
“Compare and contrast” may have been an easy exam question but it’s not an easy way to live.
You compare your worst to the subject’s best, it’s human nature and it doesn’t end well.
Their fully made up pout to your pjs and sudocrem.
Their cocktails on the beach to your cups of tea on the couch.
Their well-behaved children to yours at their most feral.
Their gym body to your jelly rolls.
We can’t really superficially compare what really matters though.
Love, Friendship, Family, Health.
Nobody posts photos of their really worst times, of the bills piling up or the walls closing in. We want everyone to think we have it great. We’re all making one another unhappier.
It’s human nature. We’re putting ourselves down. How often do we congratulate ourselves for a job well done? Pat ourselves on the back for being more successful? Sure, we share our successes on social media but do we really celebrate our own achievements?
I’ve recognised this behaviour in myself and done some research. (OK, googling, I did some googling.) Articles like this one and this one confirm my theory. Need I day more. (Ahem.) Comparing yourself negatively is a source of unhappiness. Unhappiness is bad for us. We don’t want unhappiness, we want the opposite, so we need to leave this behaviour behind and we can be happier. Easy.
This new revelation ties in very nicely with my 17th item on my list of things that all adults should do.
It’s time to concentrate on what’s good, look to what we have, not want we don’t have and stop comparing ourselves negatively to others. For things we CAN control TAKE control. For things we can’t learn to accept them. And by doing that more happiness should follow. Maybe it is that easy. Let’s try.
Are you in?
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