How comparing yourself to others makes you unhappy

Raphael Reiter
July 16, 2023
You can't be envious and happy at the same time. People who pay too much attention to social comparisons find themselves chronically vulnerable, threatened, and insecure.

This quote is by Sonja Lyubomirsky from her fantastic book The How to Happiness.

"We found that the happiest people take pleasure in other people's successes and show concern in the face of others' failures. A completely different portrait, however, has emerged of a typical unhappy person—namely, as someone who is deflated rather than delighted about his peers' accomplishments and triumphs and who is relieved rather than sympathetic in the face of his peers' failures and undoings."

So how about you? What do you practice consistently?

Jealousy? Envy? Or do you like to celebrate other people's successes?

I'll be honest with you, I have been guilty of feeling envious many times in my past, and I still do sometimes.

Did this help me in my personal growth? Nope.

Did this elevate my happiness levels? Quite the contrary.

Should I change strategies then? You better believe it, and I will do my best to fight this and learn to celebrate other people's victories.

Catch yourself

You will not change the way you feel from one day to another. In order to change this way of thinking and feeling, you need to nurture the change in habit. You need to condition yourself everyday a little bit more, so that you are able to gradually make the change natural and long lasting.

The first take we need to undertake when trying to create change, is being fully aware of the way we act and react. This means that next time you notice you feel jealous or envious, tell yourself: I am being envious. I want to change that. And so instead, I will celebrate that person. Talking out loud helps, writing helps too. Whatever you need to do, to catch yourself and pivot to another behavior.

In the Secrets of the Millionaire Mind, T. Harv Eker writes:

"Bless that which you want. If you see a person with a beautiful home, bless that person and bless that home. If you see a person with a beautiful car, bless that person and bless that car. If you see a person with a loving family, bless that person and bless that family. If you see a person with a beautiful body, bless that person and bless their body. "

Not easy to do, yet powerful. But hey, who said living an optimal life was easy?

To finish off, Sonja reminds us that, I quote:

"The happier the person, the less attention she pays to how others around her are doing. "

Let's take out our journals now.

Think of someone else's success that you might have been jealous of or envious of.

Common now, I know something somewhere with someone made you a little envious. If not, then great! But do the second part of the exercise anyway.

And now, celebrate that person.

Celebrate that person's success, that person's victories.

Put as much emotion and love and details and authenticity as possible. It'll be hard at first, but get going, and it'll get easier and easier. When you are done, take an extra minute to write down how that experience made you feel.

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