I recently had an eye-opening conversation with some friends about envy. All of us have experienced it and suffered through the effects, each to varying degrees. Some of us let it cripple, some of us let it rule but we all try to fight back. None of us have to live in it.
“Comparison is the thief of all joy.”
I’ll admit that I don’t know who said it, but the first time I heard this astute observation, I couldn’t believe how succinct it was. It’s true. I’ve been robbed of being the happy friend, the content daughter, and the mom at peace – all by my own mind.
Did you know that comparison can also rob you of your generosity? This can be generosity of wealth or generosity of spirit. If you don’t think you have enough or that you’ve been slighted in some way, you’re going to be more close-fisted with your generosity. How awful.
So, why can’t we stop comparing?
Because we’re lazy. Hear me out: It’s so much EASIER to lift your head up, look around and see what ELSE is going on. It’s interesting, too! How many hours have you spent just scrolling?!? On Facebook, on Instagram … on Twitter? We’re looking with our eyes WIDE open. Maybe it’s for inspiration, maybe it’s for an escape, maybe we’re just busy-bodies who have been given ultimate access to our addiction. Whatever the reason, and for the most part, it isn’t helping to make the world around us a better place.
There’s a solution – but it takes work. It’s like wanting to lose 15 pounds knowing it’s totally something you can do and knowing in your heart that there’s no easy way to do it (because you’ve tried). If you’re going to lose the weight, you’re going to need to do the work. The same reality applies to ridding yourself of this oppressive green-eyed beast. Here’s the plan: Focus on the joy.
That’s pretty succinct, too. It seems short and simple, but it’s hard. Trust me when I tell you, that with practice, it gets easier and FUN. It’s just re-training your brain! We ask this of our children quite a bit, so we get a front row seat as witnesses that it can be done. As parents, we teach them to retrain their brain – to fight their instincts. We teach them NOT to hit first when frustrated. We teach them that whining won’t solve the problem, that things can get better/easier if you can change just a bit. Changing is hard, but the change is where life gets good.
So how do you focus on your own joy? How is this done when you’re bombarded by news of other people’s vacations? Friendships? Experiences? Success?
1. Be aware of it. Acknowledge something you’re thankful for. Pick a time when you can do this EACH day. After you wake, when you’re brushing your teeth, in the car, before you sleep … whatever is best. I’m not telling you to list 15 things – just one. At least one. Focus on one and feel the joy that it brings to your life. Start there and add more as you’d like. It’ll get fun because happiness breeds, folks.
2. Never start a sentence with, “Well, it MUST be nice to …” Stop it. Stop it right now. You’re not being nice. Everyone knows it. You’re being catty. It doesn’t look good on you. Those words are a big, giant, flashing sign shaped like an arrow pointing directly at your head saying, “He/she’s jealous.”
3. Instead, try “I’m so happy for you!” I understand that at first you might not really mean it, so do try to avoid any sarcasm. I’m here to tell you that the more times you can say it, the quicker you’ll start to believe it (and actually be happy for someone ELSE!). You can even practice when no one else is around, while you’re scrolling. Try giving that pic/post a like and saying to yourself, “I’m so happy for them.”
4. Get older. Age – Or get wise for your years. I meet far more older folks that are content. Chat ’em up if you haven’t. They’ve lived longer – they’ve got more of this under their belts. So many more of them don’t give a F……..lip. They’ve lived long enough to realize that a lot of this stuff we let get in our craw just DOESN’T MATTER.
I don’t think this is complicated, but that doesn’t make it easy. Give yourself some grace, too. If you want to be free, eventually you will be. Focus on the good. Focus on the joy. Be generous with your spirit and your stuff. Give compliments, embrace happiness. Congratulate others. You’ve got this.