Stop Comparing Yourself: A Guide to Increasing your Happiness by Focusing on Yourself

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In today's social media age, most people's lives are more visible than ever.

Whilst there are many positives attached to this technology, the downside is the subconscious impact of comparing our own life to the "pretty pictures" of others. 

Whether it be your lifestyle, your body, your relationships or your personal achievements, when you compare yourself to other people's circumstances, situation or successes, it can quickly become a destructive cycle of negative self talk that can make you feel like you're not enough.

As the saying goes, "Comparison is the thief of joy".  It's a trap that can become a never ending cycle that wears you down.  And it can happen without you even realising it.

So if you find yourself comparing or judging yourself in this age of "digital false illusion", it's time to rewire your thinking and your energy towards being the best you can be instead for greater happiness and personal fulfilment.  Read on...

The Root of Comparison

According to celebrated author Rachel Cruze, there is actually a biological reason for why we constantly compare ourselves to others.

Our brain naturally uses comparison to figure out how we measure up to others. In the caveman era this helped human beings compete to survive, however, we have translated that survival mechanism to a safer world where "emotional survival" is the new battle.

Renowned professor of organisational behaviour, Thomas Mussweiler, describes comparison as “one of the most basic ways we develop an understanding of who we are, what we're good at, and what we're not so good at.”

Sometimes, in moderation, these comparisons can be helpful. They can provide you with a blueprint for a path to improvement, and inspire positive change. However, they can also be a means to pick yourself apart and find everything that you think is wrong with you.

When we dwell too much on comparing ourselves to the highlight reel we see in other people’s lives, it can quickly become toxic. If we constantly compare ourselves to others, we’re putting our confidence, joy, and even our mental health at risk.

So, if you find yourself on this path from time to time, here's 8 simple ways to stop comparing yourself to others so that you can live a more inspired and authentic life as "YOU". 

1. Focus on Y O U : water your own grass

First things first..

Where focus goes energy flows.

Where do you mostly focus your attention each day?  If you spend a large chunk of your day assessing the lives of others on social media, instead of watering your own grass, then that's a problem.  

You can't grow our own green grass by focusing on someone else's garden.  It's time to water and nourish and prune your own backyard, instead of wasting your precious time on comparing your situation to others, which most of the time is just an illusion any way.

2. Accept where you are

You cannot change the past, and where you are today because of it.

Instead of resisting or fighting where you are, make peace with it.

Begin to love your life, and to see the beauty in where you are.  Before anything external changes, your internal must change. Have a 'cup half full' mindset and learn to love the experience of life and all of its twists and turns. So long as you keep growing, you will see beauty in your journey.

3. Be grateful for what you have

Whenever you find yourself looking at what other people have, remind yourself of everything that you’re grateful for; that you already have.

This will be different for everyone, and that’s ok. You are allowed to be grateful for what means the most to YOU.

Are you grateful for your friends? Your family? An awesome job? The country you live in? The fresh, clean air you get to breathe every day?

Gratitude comes in all shapes and sizes and it's often the simple things we take for granted that are the best things to express gratitude for.

From taking a moment to appreciate your morning cup of coffee, to celebrating a new friendship or personal goal achieved.  You can even keep a gratitude journal and write down 3 things you’re grateful for at the end of every day.

4. Comparison? Inspiration!

When we compare our lives to someone else's, most often we are not comparing apples for apples.

Very often, we focus on their success, and have no idea about what goes on behind closed doors.

Particularly on social media, most of what we see is a "pretty" facade that doesn't paint the true picture of people's lives. 

Also, rather than letting the "image" of other people make you feel small, let it open you up; see the possibilities.  Let others’ triumphs inspire you.  And realise that it's a fact of life that there will always be someone better off than you and worse off than you.

Just be grateful for your uniqueness, your experience and what you bring to your environment and the world.

5. Use social media as a "tool" not a pastime 

Social media is a tool that keeps us connected in amazing ways. However, without even realising it, it can become a vice that wastes so much of our personal time and ability to be productive.

Use social media as a "tool" not as a "past time".  A healthy, productive past time should be focussed on you and your passions and interests.  So, if you find yourself habitually spending your spare time always on social media, it's time to disrupt these pattern by turning your notifications off, forgetting about the Apps and doing something more beneficial to YOU.

6. Let "Love" not "Fear" be your guide

The choices we make are either based on love or fear. If you take a moment to stop, breathe, and check in with yourself: your intuition will tell you if the decisions you're making on a daily basis are connected to your heart or if they're habitual and based on some type of fear.   

Make "love" the foundation of your choices.

If you ever feel confused, ask yourself this: “What would I love to do right now?” or “How can I do more of what I love?” "How can I use my gifts to serve others in a meaningful way?"

Let the answers to those questions be your guide.

7. Be your own greatest fan

Self Love is a key to self care that we don't usually practice easily without conscious effort.

You can be your own worst critic, or your own greatest fan.  You can picture yourself doing or striving to achieve great things, or you can see yourself as never quite aiming up, which a destructive emotion that will eventually weigh you down.

You need to realise that you are unique, you are loved and you are enough. And you bring amazing gifts to the world.

If you suffer from feelings of unworthiness or self doubt, one of the easiest ways to break the cycle is to take the focus off yourself and onto serving others in any way you can. 

Contribution - no matter how small it may seem - is the essential first step to feeling a greater sense of self worth. There is something magical about doing things for others that help to remind you about how great you really are and the gifts you bring to the world.

Finally, praise yourself for being brave enough to try new things. Celebrate little wins and achievements along the way and stop blaming yourself for past failures and mistakes that were "learnings" not "losses".

8. Compete against only yourself

One of the biggest obstacles that can stop you from making progress is a limiting belief that someone else already has a certain thing covered, or is far more advanced than you.  You therefore rationalise that these a sound reasons for you NOT to move forward and try it for yourself.

Forget competing against others and start competing against yourself.

Set your own mini targets and your own goals and challenge yourself for your own benefit - no one else's!

When you shift the competitive focus away from others and onto yourself, it changes the game.

From that place, you give yourself permission to open up to new experiences and new challenges because all of your mental and emotional energy is on YOU. You also just may surprise yourself at how good you are at achieving a certain personal goal or being competent at a new hobby or activity.  

Don't let the competition of others hold you back from competing against yourself.

The Main Take Away

One of the keys to protecting your long term peace and happiness, is to stop comparing yourself to others.

Remember, comparison is the thief of joy because it dilutes your focus from yourself and everything that's great about you, onto the lives of others that usually have no real bearing on the success of your life and your experience. 

It all starts with how you choose to spend your time and quietening the noise.  Practice self love, believe in your own unique gifts, compete only against yourself and be your own greatest fan.

These are the secrets to true fulfilment and a sense of contribution and self-worth. 

Tolman Self Care.

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