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Comparison is the Thief of Joy

My coach once told me that comparison is the thief of joy, and in my experience she is right. How often have you opened social media, and instantly felt that everyone is living a better, more exciting life than you? Perhaps you see friends and family travelling the world. Perhaps someone seems to have the picture perfect family. Maybe a stranger has the most beautiful skin you have ever seen… The list is endless.

I don’t have a problem with social media. I have found a myriad of cute coffee shops on Instagram. Instagram is also one of my favourite places to find travel inspiration, whether it be in New Zealand or anywhere else in the world. Recipes is another example where I turn to Instagram. So, just to be clear, I like social media and I think there is some really good content to be found there.

BUT, and it’s a big but, social media can also be terrible for our mental health. If you close social media feeling worse than when you opened it, something is not right. You might be following the wrong people or perhaps you are falling into the comparison trap (I have been there). If we compare our whole life to one snap shot of someone else’s on social media, that’s bound to make us feel like shit. If you don’t resonate with someone’s content, and it leaves you feeling shit, you can unfollow. However, I also encourage you to not buy into the cancel culture. Don’t just unfollow someone because that person challenges your views and beliefs. Otherwise, you will end up in an echo chamber, and that never leads to anything good.

And sometimes, you really just have to turn off social media and spend some time in the real world. You can’t expect to feel joyful and happy if you spend hours and hours on Instagram day in and day out.

But back to comparison. If we are constantly comparing our life to everyone else’s, how do you expect to not feel like you are falling short? The truth is I’m not the best writer in the world, and I probably never will be. I still write with joy, and I follow other writers that I consider much better writers than me, but I do not compare myself to them. I do, however, find them to be a wonderful source of inspiration. I read their books, articles and short stories. I listen to their advice. Heck, I will even reach out to them personally. Instead of comparing myself to others, I started looking at them with curiosity. Let me give you some examples.

When I was living in Germany many moons ago, I was working a job I neither hated or loved. What I really wanted was to be self-employed. Every time I would see freelance writers or hear about them, I would instantly compare myself to them and feel that I was falling short. I don’t know exactly when my mindset started shifted, but at one point or another I looked at them and instead of comparing myself to them (or feeling jealous) I looked at them and thought ‘if they can do it, so can I’.

When I had started my business and I heard of digital nomads, I reached out to a few and asked how they did it. I read a million blog posts about it, and eventually I booked a flight ticket to the Maldives, and the rest is history. My point is that comparison will get you nowhere. Jealousy will also get you nowhere. Comparison and jealousy will only ever steal your joy. Instead be curious. Ask questions.

When I met my partner, I started getting interested in finances. I wanted to learn about investing. From shares to bitcoin to property. I listened to him. I started following people that are financial savvy. I bought books (I highly recommend Girls That Invest, seriously. Simran Kaur is the best). Instead of looking at other women my age who are further along the investment journey and feel like a failure, I was curious. How do they invest? What do they invest in? How of a deposit do I need for an investment property? I learn from them.

I want to know how you afforded that property. I want to know which shares you invest in. Tell me how you travel the world while also running a successful business. Share with me how you wrote and published a book. How did you afford to fly business class to Europe? How did you afford your designer bag? I want to know. I repeat, comparison and jealousy will get you nowhere. Curiosity and asking questions, will get you places. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, because trust me, if others can do it, then you certainly can too.

So the next time you find that you compare yourself to someone else or you feel jealous about someone else’s life, whether online or in-person, perhaps reach out to that person and ask how they did it. Don’t just sit at home scrolling through Instagram and dig yourself into a hole of low self-esteem and jealousy. Go out into the world and be curious and ask questions.