It's natural to compare our own lives with those of others - weighing up the pros and cons of situations helps us make decisions. But there can be a downside when you find you're constantly comparing yourself with others, envying their seemingly perfect lives and wondering why they are luckier, more prosperous, and better looking than you.
The risk is that you get trapped in a cycle of envy, that feeling you get when you want a fair share of what someone else has. And you can't be happy when that person does well, either.
Jealousy often arises as protection from feelings of vulnerability and low self-esteem. Bach Flower Mix 44 can help to boost your self-belief and drive away bitterness and resentment.
Are you envious when you see someone posting on social media about their new job or fantastic holiday? Do you think that everyone else has a better life than you? Let's face it; no one's going to post about a job they hate, a row with their partner, or the holiday from hell! Mostly, people post a flattering, carefully-edited version of their lives.
So the next time you feel jealous and resentful about someone's social media posts, there are a couple of tactics that can help. Firstly, remember that you can only see what they want you to see. The reality might be very different from what you can see on the surface. They may appear to "have it all" and be respected and well-liked. But behind closed doors, their actual lives may be very different. So remember that what you think you know is not always the truth.
Secondly, while the lives of the rich and famous may seem desirable, a glamorous lifestyle has its downsides. For example, would you want to have people scrutinising the details of all your public appearances - and as much of your private life as they can discover?
Take a moment and think about how you really want your life to be. For example, do you beat yourself up because you don't have a wide circle of friends? Do you wonder why other people are more popular?
Look at things from another perspective and ask yourself what would "being more popular" bring you? Maybe being constantly in demand for social occasions would give you a sense of belonging, but you might find that you miss having time to spend as you like. If you were a high-flyer in your career, you might well be more affluent, and it might boost your self-esteem, but you might be more stressed and unhappy.
Maybe what you want is already close at hand. Perhaps you have a loving partner, a family, pets, a few good friends, and time to spend on hobbies? Would being more popular - especially on social media - make you any happier?
Next time you are envious of something someone else has and ask yourself, "Why not me?", dig down to the essentials of what you think that "something" would give you. The chances are that you already have it!
How much do you truly desire what someone else has? Would you be prepared to swap your life for theirs? The following exercise will help you decide if you want to change direction in your life - it's a comparison game!
Remember that if you want someone else's life, you have to be willing to do a complete swap; that is, you would have to give up your life as it is and swap over to theirs.
Think of someone whose lifestyle you wish you had. Now take some paper and divide it into two columns. In the first column, write down all they have that you don't. For example, do they have a perfect husband or wife, a lovely house, or lots of money?
Then in the second, list everything you have that they don't. Be sure to include everything you appreciate and value in your life - family, friends, or pets. But this time, you're not considering these things as objects, but rather as what they mean to you and the unique connection and relationship that exists between you and your loved ones.
Try to think about specific aspects of your life that you value. For example, do you love finishing work early on Fridays because it gives you time to go paddleboarding in the afternoon?
Look at the two columns. You'll probably discover that the second list is much longer than the first. Now ask yourself, would you be prepared to give up any of the things you love to have the things you envy?
You may well decide that the good things on your list are just as valuable - or even more valuable - than the things the other person has that you've envied.
We feel jealous and bitter because we often forget to pay attention to the good stuff in our lives. Happy people are not necessarily rich, famous or powerful. Instead, they've chosen to be happy by practising gratitude for what they have.
So every day, ask yourself these questions:
Doing this will help you assess what's important in your life and feel more content.
We're conditioned to strive to do more and have more in our society. But wealth doesn't always equate to contentment. The things we can acquire through wealth cannot bring lasting happiness. When buying a new car or the latest sneakers, the buzz you get fades rapidly. These things are not valuable in themselves - they stand for other qualities that you can achieve regardless of how rich you are.
Learning to deal with envy will steer you towards contentment, well-being and happiness. Would wealth, reputation or possessions bring you joy or do love, serenity, and the freedom to live your life as you wish bring true happiness?
Of course, that doesn't mean you have to accept that everything stays the same. You can still achieve your goals and dreams, such as finding a more fulfilling job or spending more time with your family and friends. But focusing on gratitude for the things you have instead of envy for the things that others have will lead you to a more well-balanced, happier life.
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