Do not compare yourself to others
It’s funny how we, as human beings, add stuff to life that is not only unnecessary but also very harmful to ourselves. Comparing ourselves to others is an endless cycle of desires and frustrations. The standards for our happiness is based, not on us, but on others.
The bar keeps raising so we are always on the lookout and we are never satisfied with what we are now. Contentment is the key to happiness not desiring more. I grew up very skinny and I was always envious of any men who were not skinny. It took me years to finally get to a weight and shape that I was satisfied with.
However, the comparing was not over, I started envying guys on Instagram some of them that I knew personally, some of them were just random guys on IG, and I would compare myself to them, and I felt like shit. Other times, I would hear of how x person or y person was doing so well and it made me compare myself to them.
Again, I felt like shit. Someone would give a compliment to someone else around me and I would feel bad because he or she was getting that compliment and I was not getting it for myself. They say that social media platforms can lead us to depression, envy, and other unwholesome states of mind.
They have a point. We all have gone down that rabbit hole of scrolling down our feeds and slowly but surely, one picture after another, we start feeling worst and worst. We live in a time where we have uncanny access to the “ins and outs” of other people’s lives. Is it bad? Maybe so…
Is it the platform’s fault or ours? Well, those platforms are free and nobody is really forcing us to be on those platforms, let alone scrolling through our feeds and let alone feeling like shit in the process. I think it’s too easy to throw the baby with the bathwater and point fingers at the platforms and not hold ourselves accountable.
Yes, those platforms give you an unnatural voyeur peephole into people’s lives that can lead you to unwholesome negative states of mind such as envy, jealousy, frustration, anger, and all that good stuff.
However, we need to be responsible for our actions and understand that even though social media platforms and media platforms, in general, facilitate those behaviors. We still are the ones that allow those thoughts and feelings to perpetuate in our minds and lives.
So, how can we stop comparing ourselves to others?
There are a few things we can start to do to stop those patterns. First, we need to find our lane. What I mean by that, is that we need to focus on ourselves and not others. Whatever makes us happy should be based on what makes our hearts sing not what other people think, or what we think other people think of us or what people want from us, or all three of them.
That’s what we should focus on us, you, me not others, not them… And it can be hard. We might be lost because we have so often done things out of comparison and “competition” instead of what we really, truly, deeply want, that we are now confused.
It takes time and it’s OK. We need to find our authentic self and shut the negative inside and outside noises. Perhaps now is the time, in the beginning, to shut those social media platforms until we can deal with them with the right mindset.
Perhaps, now is the time to stop doing the things that will trigger those negative responses and those “pavlovian comparing reflexes”. Now is the time to do you. Choose you and choose your own happiness and stay in your lane. You don’t need to look at anybody else’s lane because you are focusing on yours and the other lanes don’t define yours.
Define your own happiness. Oftentimes when we compare, it’s all about the trappings of the human mind. We want more of the fame, beauty, status, money, and material gains that our neighbors have. Keeping up with the Joneses and wanting more than the Joneses is the fast lane to a very unfulfilled life whether you achieve keeping up with them or even having more than them.
If you can’t keep up, you will feel horrible. If you can, you will be empty, shallow, and might have a lot of regrets. The solution is to stay in your lane and not stray. That’s the key to happiness. Another thing, that is important to do is to understand that the grass is not always greener on the other side.
Whatever situation you are in, there is always some suffering that comes along. Whenever you have a new situation you are just replacing one form of “suffering” with another. If you are single you have a single person suffering. If you are married you have a married person suffering and the examples are countless.
Whatever the situation we have or we want or we envy. Nothing is exempt from suffering. We just forget about this because we glamorize what others have. We glamorize what we want. Right now you might have a lot of things in your life that you had yearned for before and now are normal to you. Now, those things are part of your life and they might make you happy but they did not necessarily change your life. Contentment is key.
People only show highlights of their lives. They don’t necessarily divulge the hardships and the moments they have failed and were ashamed which gives us an incomplete skewed vision of how we think other people are living their lives.
It’s not all rainbows and butterflies as they say. We all have our own shit and as human beings, we all are going through the same process of life, aging, and dying. Another thing that we all have in common is that we are all fucked up in one way or another. Remember this when you are feeling envious and/or are comparing yourself to someone. Nothing is ever as perfect as it seems because that’s just life.
We all have our darkness, our shadows, our kinks, our doubts, our unwholesome thoughts, and actions. When we compare we put people on a pedestal and idealize their situation when they are just as human as you and me. It does mean we should feel happy about people’s hardships and struggles. No, that’s when we need the compassion to understand that we are all in this together.
Another tool we need is Mudita. It’s a Buddhist concept. The translation is sympathetic joy. When we have mudita we rejoice in other people’s joy, beauty, and success. We do not let negativity conquer our minds with thoughts of envy and jealousy. We let go of those thoughts and replace them with thoughts of benevolence and joy for other’s people happiness.
When people suffer we have compassion for them. When people are happy we have a sympathetic joy for them. We share in the happiness as if it were our own. In the beginning, when you start practicing this, it can feel disingenuous. It’s completely normal but after some time you will start to really feel that joy and you’ll be happy.
So, never, ever compare yourself to others. Understand that the grass is not necessarily greener on the other side and life is just life. Everything comes with its share of good and bad. Yes, choose your “own suffering”. Choose things that make you happy for you. Not things that will make you “compete” for more because you just want to “win” And understand that we are all human, we all in this together. None of us have perfect lives and let us have compassion, sympathetic joy, and empathy towards one and another regardless of our situations, our physical attractiveness, our bank accounts, and our statuses. At the end of the day, we all die, and all this stuff does not matter. What matters is the way we treat one another.