Theodore Roosevelt is often quoted as saying, “Comparison is the thief of joy.” This is so true, and such an important concept to keep in mind in the age we live in.
After all, we can easily tune into other people’s lives 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. We can more easily and directly compare our lives to others than ever before, and it’s making us sadder and lonelier than ever. So much for social media, right?
Getting in the habit of comparing yourself to others and envying what they have is the best way to be absolutely miserable, and I want to explain why. I think it’s important to learn how to recognize the habits that are making you sad so you can work toward fixing them.
This is especially pertinent for first responder wives. Your life looks a lot different from the normal banker hours type lifestyle where your husband is home at a regular time each night and has a consistent schedule from week to week.
It’s not worth comparing what’s normal to you to what’s normal for someone else.
In fact, this isn’t even just for those whose lives don’t follow a consistent schedule. This is for those of you with 3 kids yearning for the days when you had all the free time of friends with one child, or those who wish they could have more children like another friend, or those of you who feel envious of someone else bouncing back after pregnancy or embracing motherhood more easily than you.
These comparisons are a waste of time. Instead of wishing your life looked like someone else’s, focus on redefining your own normal and accepting and LOVING it for what it is. No amount of wishing will give you anybody else’s life or the things they have. Start living your own life and rock it!
When you start a new hobby/etc, it’s easy to get sucked into a habit of gazing wistfully at someone else’s progress at risk of ignoring your own.
Everyone has to start from the beginning. Don’t forget that whoever you’re admiring and/or jealous of was at one point in the same shoes as you. Think about JK Rowling, for instance, or any number of famous “failures” who had to start from rock bottom.
“Rock bottom became the solid foundation on which I rebuilt my life” JK Rowling
The side effect of this kind of comparison can be that we don’t seek to try something we want to do because we think, well, look how far they are. I’ll never get there. Well, if you think you’ll never get there, you won’t! You just have to start.
If you want something, go for it. Look at it this way: If you start right now, a year from now you’ll be grateful you started today.
Read: Take what you read on social media with a grain of salt.
Nobody (well, hardly anybody) posts the details of their personal failures and trials on Facebook. It’s mostly a place of good news and celebration, which, if taken in large doses, can make you feel like your imperfect life is less than wonderful.
If you knew what happened behind the scenes of everyone’s life, you’d realize they struggle with things you could ever have imagined.
I tend to share way more on this blog about my life and my struggles than any of my social media accounts, but even these are toned down. Certain stories remain untold, and even of the stories that are told, certain details are left out. If you looked at my Facebook, I think you’d have the false sense of someone who has it all together.
That’s because on Facebook, I don’t talk about how I yelled at my son that day because he was getting on my nerves, or how he hit me in the middle of his bedtime song and got put straight to bed with not even a kiss (and PS… that still makes me feel guilty.) I don’t mention how I neglected my husband and got mad at him for something stupid.
I also don’t talk very explicitly about my struggles with depression, anxiety, or loneliness.
Always, always, always remember that when you see a status on Facebook, you’re only seeing a part of the picture, not someone’s complete story.
Comparing yourself to others really does take away your joy. I know it’s a hard habit to break (after all, I wrote this just as much for myself as anybody else), but today is the day to work on recognizing it and working on replacing feelings of envy with feelings of gratitude. 🙂
I’m a twenty-something LEO wife and stay-at-home mom to a one-year-old little boy. I enjoy writing, reading, taking my son for walks and runs in the stroller, and crafting. My goal is for Love and Blues to be a resource for first responders and their families. I write about marriage and family topics, as well as about the quirks that come with being married to a man in law enforcement, firefighting, or emergency medical services.
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