If You Want to be Happy, Stop Comparing

David Andrew Wiebe


Photo by Eddie Billard/Unsplash

When you wake up in the morning, what’s the first thing you do?

For most people, the answer will be to reach for their phone.

They’ll check their text messages, social media notifications, their emails… sometimes more.

All this before getting up and having a drink of water or going to the bathroom.

Is this normal? Well, it’s normal in the sense that a lot of people do it.

Is it healthy? Well, that’s another matter entirely…

Every Morning, You Reinforce Your Identity

When you check your phone first thing in the morning, you’re basically reinforcing your identity.

“But what’s the problem with that? I am who I am.”

True, you are who you are. But anyone who has spent time in personal development realizes that shifting identity is one of the most powerful things you can do to achieve your goals.

One of my favorite mindset teachers, Quazi Johir explains how identity shifting works in this video:

When you check your phone first thing in the morning, you end up affirming everything you already are and already have, instead of what you want to become, and the actions you will take to become it today.

Author Dr. Joe Dispenza says who you are as a human being is basically set in stone by the time you turn 35. Most of your life, from that point onwards, will be dictated to you by your subconscious.

That means you will rarely take any actions outside of your nature and nurture once you've turned 35.

Scary thought. Because that tendency will only be reinforced by checking your phone every morning.

Identity shifts can't happen when you're programming yourself to be exactly what you already are, no more, no less.

But We Also Compare Ourselves to Others

Smartphones are addictive. And so is social media.

Social media encourages comparison. And it mostly happens on autopilot, without us even thinking.

We see a picture on Instagram and think to ourselves:

“Look how good they have it…”

“Their life must be so great…”

“I would love to make money doing nothing…”

“I wish I could travel the world…”

"Those abs are amazing..."

All without ever asking what it’s like to live like they do.

Do you want the answer?

The answer is that they are human being, just like you, and they have good days and bad days, just like you, and you might be remarkably surprised at how boring their life is and how little they make.

In some rare cases, you would be surprised by how good their life is and how much they make. But rarely.

When you compare yourself to the social media rock stars you see, you are likely comparing yourself unfavorably.

More than likely, you are comparing your blooper reels to their highlights.

Playing the Comparison Game

Okay, but comparison isn’t bad, right? Everyone does it.

The truth is those who constantly compare themselves to others are some of the most unhappy people there are.

I just came across this tweet via Lawrence King on Twitter:

How true is that? And how many people do you know that say the same thing?

We all talk about social media and being connected as though it’s a good thing. And we don’t moderate the behavior one bit. We don’t check in with ourselves or others to see how they’re doing with their social media screen time.

It’s like openly drinking in public. Except it’s allowed.

If you have no boundaries in place, then you are mindlessly and thoughtlessly consuming more social media than you even care to track or admit.

I can honestly say the only time I spend on social media is the 15 minutes or so it takes to plan and schedule posts, and another 15 minutes or so at the end of the day to interact and engage with my audience. That’s about it.

Those are my boundaries, and based on what I'm out to accomplish, they serve me well.

What boundaries could you set in place?

Why Does Comparison Make You Unhappy?

Honestly, the reason comparison makes you unhappy is because you think you should have something someone else has.

You feel like you’ve put in the work to have earned it or to be deserving. Or, at the very least, you’re a good person, and what do they get to do things you don’t, right?

That’s not accurate thinking. It’s not a good assessment of the situation.

Because you haven’t thought critically about this. You haven’t asked yourself questions like:

  • How old are they?
  • How long have they been doing what they’ve been doing?
  • How much time and effort have they put into what they’re doing?
  • Are they even real, or are they just renting the Lambo?
  • Is their life as glamorous as it looks (in most cases, no)?

No, you just jump right to, “I deserve everything I deserve by virtue of being me!”

Whatever they’re posting to social media, guaranteed, is just the highlights. They create the perfectly manicured profile to lure in people who think that life can be perfect (the influencer's perfect customer).

Writer Jay Papasan is incredibly successful in the eyes of most. You might know him for having co-authored The ONE Thing as well as The Millionaire Real Estate Agent. But those are just a couple examples of his many works.

You want to know what he says about success?

It’s just about showing up and doing the work. And it’s dreadfully boring.

These thoughts are echoed by the likes of author Seth Godin and Tim Ferriss too.

Success is about daily habits and keeping to a routine. Showing up and doing the work. That’s about it.

What is your favorite Instagram influencer saying about success?

They might make it look sexy, but if it were, everyone would have done what they have.

Final Thoughts

I don’t know how much happiness matters to you. But I do know that most would say it matters a lot.

Comparison tends to erode your confidence over time, making you less happy.

It feeds right into the addiction cycle that smartphones and social media have encouraged.

And instead of doing something about your situation, whether it’s finding a significant other, starting a business, getting in shape or otherwise, you end up letting your low self-esteem rule your life.

You look for quick fixes instead of long-term solutions. You spend money on things you don’t even need and aren’t going to give you the life you want.

You end up doing nothing to better yourself. And why would you? Your self-confidence is in the gutter.

The magic pills don't work.

It’s a cliché to say, but it is nevertheless true:

You should only compare yourself to you. Can you be a little bit better today than you were yesterday if you tried? Of course, you can!

Maybe instead of checking your phone first thing in the morning, you could go for a walk, or meditate, or read a book…

That might even give you a fighting chance of taking new actions today and reprogramming your subconscious mind to a new benchmark.

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