I have a good job, a healthy family, and great friends. I’m doing great. But then I see a few Facebook posts or hear about some acquaintances with perfect lives, and I start thinking… Compared to them, maybe I’m not doing so great after all… Do you know the feeling?
Although we are essentially satisfied with our lives, we still feel like something is missing when we compare ourselves to others. This person earns more, that person gets to travel the world for work, that person manages to have a career and kids, that person has more luck in everything… And we’re just struggling, always short on money, only traveling to go shopping, and life happiness just won’t seem to come our way. Or we may realize we have a good job and a healthy family, but somewhere deep down inside we hear a voice telling us that our job could be even better, that our family could be even happier, and we admit that it’s true.
And our “essentially satisfied” state suddenly becomes dissatisfaction. How did that happen? Simply by comparing ourselves to others. And in the worst case, it can also lead to envy.
Of course, we can’t maintain this state of dissatisfaction for too long, for at least two reasons. First, it reduces our life satisfaction. Second, by comparing ourselves to others and being envious, we often create negative relationships with our surroundings and the people who make it up. Therefore, we should change this state as soon as possible for our own good.
Yes, it can always be better
First of all, we need to realize that “yes, it can always be better”. Not because we regret that what we have is not enough or because we’re constantly chasing perfection. We will never achieve that because assuming that everything can always be better, there will always be a newer and better version of what we have. And so on, ad infinitum. An endless pursuit of perfection and an endless dissatisfaction.
Set specific goals
Let’s try to replace the nonexistent and unattainable ideal with a concrete and realistic idea. These will be life goals that we want to achieve. I believe I don’t need to remind you that we need to search for and determine such goals with thoughtfulness and judgment. When we create these goals, let’s ask ourselves: “Will I be satisfied when these goals are achieved?” If the answer is yes, we’re on the right track. However, let’s not forget to remind ourselves of these goals and the satisfaction that should result from them, especially when we start to perceive envy and comparison creeping back into our lives.
Did we answer the above-mentioned question negatively? If so, we may have erred in setting our goals. Let’s try again and be honest with ourselves. What do we need to be satisfied?
How much do I actually have…
In the midst of our daily responsibilities and concerns, it’s easy to forget what we have in our lives. This is a shame. Being aware of everything we have and reminding ourselves of what we’ve achieved and overcome can be a useful defense against envy and a way to increase our satisfaction and joy in life. Conversely, focusing on what we don’t have brings dissatisfaction and negativity.
Even his life isn’t perfect
It’s possible to get the impression that someone is living a perfect life and we want that too for some reason. This can lead us down the path of comparison and envy. If we took a closer look at that person’s life, however, we would quickly realize that they too have problems and their life isn’t perfect. It’s often the case that people appear happier and less worried than they actually are at first glance. After all, you don’t reveal your problems and worries to everyone you meet. However, you don’t have to be afraid to share positive experiences or successes. People who only know these aspects of your life may think you’re the one living the perfect, problem-free life.
So the real magic of a “perfect life” may be hidden in the fact that the person is satisfied with their life despite everything. In fact, you could say we envy this life satisfaction, not specific things or goals. Those can differ from our values and desires. But the desire to be satisfied is something we have in common.
And what about Facebook?
Yes, you guessed it right. Social media is one of the very significant sources of envy, jealousy, and comparison. People often post about their successes and joys on social media. And let’s be honest, most of us check social media every day. Therefore, we are more susceptible to envy people’s “perfect” lives more than generations of people before us who did not use social media and thus had fewer opportunities to compare themselves.
However, let’s think again that a person on a social network might boast about getting a great new job. But they won’t write about the ten job interviews that ended negatively beforehand. They’ll brag about the bouquet of roses from their partner but won’t write about the two-hour argument they had last night.
On social media, people usually don’t present their entirely real life. So let’s not be deceived and misled by this apparent perfection.
Comparing ourselves to others
Although I write about how comparing ourselves to others harms us, the truth is that the need to compare ourselves is very natural for humans. We want to know how we’re doing – and the simplest way to find out is to compare our situation to how others are doing. However, as you may suspect, this comparison is very imprecise. We simply do not have enough accurate information about others, and as I mentioned earlier, we often make assumptions, fill in the gaps, and idealize others, so that in the end, we always come out feeling defeated.
So how can we satisfy this natural need to compare ourselves and not harm ourselves in the process? Let’s compare ourselves to ourselves, not to others. We are unique and so is our life, goals, abilities, and what we have to offer and achieve in the world. Let’s find our own path and focus on improving ourselves on that path. Let’s compare what we have achieved today to what we achieved yesterday. Let’s improve ourselves. Not to be better than anyone else, but simply to be good.
Let’s not compare ourselves to others. Because no matter how good we are, it is very likely that someone else will always be better at something. However, that does not mean that we should not do things as well as we can.
Finally, I would like to add that ending the comparison game with others is difficult and requires a great deal of self-confidence and self-assurance. If, despite all our efforts, we cannot find satisfaction in our lives (with ourselves) and we cannot stop comparing ourselves, we can consider visiting a psychologist or therapist, who can become our guide in the search for satisfaction and balance.