Here's how you find happiness
We are all always so quick to judge ourselves compared to others. Like, oh Karen just got a job in a pandemic how come I can’t get one? But who knows maybe Karen has a job in finance and you sure as hell know you’d never. So why would you bother feeling jealous about something you know you don’t want?
We can compare ourselves to others and what we don’t have to what someone does, but no one knows exactly how that person is doing, except that person. And since I graduated, and have been home for countless days now since COVID, I’m finding happiness easily comparable. When you have so much access to other’s life stories online and around you, it's easier to feel unhappy. But I'm sure what you're reading or seeing is only the half of it.
Here are few things I remind myself when I’m ever feeling down about where I am or what I’m doing.
1. View other’s success as encouraging not discouraging
Instead of being jealous of people’s success, look up to them. They have been in your position before, and they probably know what it's like to be unhappy, because who hasn’t? We shouldn’t assume we will never achieve their success. Granted, not everyone was born a Kardashian, so I also think you shouldn’t necessarily wish for a life you weren’t born into. And I also think if you view others’ success with a jealous eye you’ll never be happy with your own. You could be so successful but still wish you were born into fame. So instead of wishing you were like a certain person and knowing you will never become them, wish to just be better. Set your own goals and don’t compare those to others. See a success story as an encouraging one, not a discouraging one. Because jealousy isn’t the best motivator. But striving to be great is, and it's okay to look to a few of your role models to encourage yourself.
2. Everything is relative
Of course, if you’re unemployed and all your friends have jobs you’re gonna be upset. Of course, if you’re single and everyone you know is in a relationship, you’re gonna be even more lonely. Of course, if you’re experiencing FOMO and go on social media, your FOMO will reach groundbreaking heights. The list goes on. I’m sure you get the point. Everything is relative. Your happiness is shaped by those around you. If you view happiness as something comparable, it is directly related to who you compare yours to. That’s why people gravitate towards others who are not intimidating. Who make us feel better, not worse about ourselves. A lot of us would rather surround ourselves with people that don’t make us feel any more lonely, lazy, unemployed, etc. than we already are (or might be).
3. Be better than you- not him, her, them, or anyone
Without even realizing it (and I’ve done this too), people tend to compete for their success. You find someone, whether that’d be a co-worker, a friend, an ex, an ex-friend, an unsupportive parent, a teacher, and you try to prove yourself to them. We strive to prove others wrong, to show that we are better and we will rise to the occasion. But if you use someone to bring yourself up, then what happens when you win? You find someone else to “beat?” We should focus on personal growth and not use others as stepping stones or milestones. Our past selves should be stepping stones and points of growth. The only person you should be proving yourself to is yourself.
4. Pressure is pain
Sometimes “working under pressure” produces the best results. And there’s a psychological theory to explain this. But, if you’re under pressure and you’re not the best at what you’re doing, the anxiety can be debilitating. I know what it's like to have a to-do list and not check off any items by the end of the day. That’s a sh*tty feeling- it is. And so then I enter into what I would call a negative thought loop- I’m down on myself for not completing a to-do list and then I’m down on myself for being down on myself instead of doing what’s on the list. And so you put pressure on yourself for not being the best you could be that day. When maybe you just didn’t feel like doing that today? Especially in quarantine, it is so easy to feel down on yourself because of the insane amount of free time we are given. And I’m one to want to make the most of each day and enjoy it. But I also want to be super productive. But sometimes you can’t relax and be super productive all at once. You can’t do it all. So don’t pressure yourself into getting the best of every hour or every minute or every second. Just do the best you can. Being strict on yourself and pressuring yourself is the worst thing you can do for your happiness. Because if you give yourself set guidelines that you know you probably can’t meet, you’ll view that as failing and then you’ll be even more discouraged. So put some pressure on yourself, but not too much, and you will do what you want in time.
5. Take a break
Take a long shower. Sleep in a little extra. Spend a day watching Netflix. Lay out all day with the sole purpose of getting tan and nothing else. Seriously, you will not be happy if you don’t take breaks. I recently started freelancing and when I’m doing work I’m loving myself for it. I feel great, accomplished, and happy. But when I’m done after a few short hours, I’m bored, wishing I had more work to do. But what I’ve been told is that we should enjoy those days off and take as much as we can. Because when I have a full-time adult job I know I’ll cherish relaxation time.
Post-grad and pandemic life is hard and it has literally just begun. I always have that voice in the back of mind screaming “you have to get a job!” Sometimes I feel like I’m my own worst (screaming) enemy. And I’ve realized I am and believe it or not, we all are.
It's not Karen’s fault you feel so down on yourself. It's yours for thinking it's Karen’s fault. It's your jealousy; your own self-pressures; your need to compare your life to others. Once you can shift your mindset, shift how you view success stories, shift those discouraging thoughts into encouraging ones, everything else will shift with it. Granted, I’m talking as if I’ve had years of experience, but I know I haven’t. I’ve just taken enough psychology courses and overthought enough to know that your mind creates your reality. So stop placing others first into your life story and start placing yourself at the cover and on every page.
Thank others for helping you take your own steps, for pushing you to take the first leap. Because you control what you do, and no one else will affect that path (besides a corrupt economic/societal/the list goes on system, but that’s a discussion for another day).