Finding Gratitude in a World of Constant Comparison
We’ve all heard the saying, “Comparison is the thief of joy.” Deep down, we all know this age old adage is true, but yet in today’s constantly connected society, we can’t stop ourselves from comparing our lives to the seemingly perfect lives of those we admire on Facebook or Instagram.
Even I catch myself doing it: scrolling the Instagram account of someone I’ve never even met, thinking “her life looks so perfect.” What a waste of precious time! Time I can spend improving my own life!
Guard Your Joy
Fortunately, I am getting better about catching myself in the act of comparison. When I do find myself deep in a pit of envy, I stop and talk myself off the ledge. I gently remind myself, “her life likely isn’t as perfect as it seems.” Then, I remind myself, “I am happy with my life.” Finally, I put my phone down and take a moment to think about all the reasons that I am satisfied with my own life. While I know it sounds cheesy, it does help.
Being so connected can be both a blessing and a curse. I often find myself thinking that one of the major problems with today’s society is that most of us only share the good. The ugly, unpretty parts of our lives get hidden under the highlight reel of vacations, achievements, and Insta-worthy lattes. What is designed to make us feel more connected can often make us feel isolated instead. Guess what? You don’t have to fall victim to that trap! Neither do I. Unfortunately, it isn’t always easy and you often have to work for it. It is important to guard your joy!
A Practice in Gratitude
The other day, my husband really helped me find my gratitude, when I had been struggling with comparison. We had been spending time with a couple who, in my eyes, had it all: six-figure incomes, a large house, new cars. I was feeling a little envious, when my husband gently nudged me by saying, “Do you think they are really happy?” Frankly, I don’t know if they are or not and I told him as much with a dejected shrug. Deep down, I was thinking, ‘I would be happy with those things!’
Then, he says, “I’m really happy with our life. Not just content. I am truly happy. We have a wonderful child and a great marriage. I don’t need anything else.” That was when I saw how childish I was being. Maybe our friends with the six figure incomes were happy, or maybe… like me, they were still reaching for more. Fortunately, I stopped and thought about it and decided my husband was right. His gratitude really lifted me out of my “comparison funk.”
Love What You Have
I understand now that I am actually incredibly fortunate, even when I choose not to see it. Truthfully, I have been blessed with so much more than I deserve. When I compare my life to others, what I’m really saying is, “I’m not good enough.” It is so important to understand that you ARE good enough. So, while we may not have six figure incomes, a large house, or brand new cars, we have so much.
Allen and I have a strong, loving relationship. We laugh every day and we almost never fight. If we DO fight, it’s always something trivial (like who has to make the coffee before HAVING the coffee) Our son is happy, healthy and smart as a whip. There were dark days when we thought we may never have a child and to see his sweet face is truly the greatest blessing in my life.
Additionally, we have jobs that we don’t hate. While they may not be our “dream jobs,” they pay our bills and neither of us ever “brings work home.” Our cars may not be brand new luxury vehicles but they are (mostly) reliable, and when needed, we have some money put back for repairs. We have a small home that, while it isn’t much, IS nicely furnished with things that we love. It is comfortable, inviting, and in good repair. Another great source of happiness is that it has a big yard where our pets and Chase can play. Choosing to have a smaller home leaves us with some money for extras, like vacations and date nights.
We live simply but we are happy. Is it possible that we are happy, at least in part, BECAUSE of our simplistic way of life?
Understanding What Happiness Is (To You)
I often reflect on the happiest times of my life and then look for ways to recreate that happiness. You know what I’ve noticed over the years? The times in my life when I am happiest are also the times in my life when I want the least. I am happiest when I understand that what I have is enough. To this end, every night, when I say my prayers, instead of asking God to give me the things I want, I ask him to relieve me from my desires, to make me content with less. While striving for simplicity may not bring happiness to everyone, it does bring happiness to me, and to me, that’s all that matters.
How do you break the spell of comparison? Do you have any tips for guarding your joy? I would love to hear about them. Please share them with me by commenting below.
As always, thank you for reading! I hope you have a beautiful and blessed day.