Imagine this: you arrive home and drag yourself through the door after a long day at work during the hot summer. After eating and doing some chores around the house, you realize it is almost 7 pm. How is that possible? You just got home! Oh, well. You mosey on over to the couch, and you pull out your phone to check social media. All you see are photos and videos of your friends living their best lives at the beach, on vacations in other countries, or exercising. After being on social media for a few minutes, you start feeling unhappy about your life and glance away from the screen. You look around and see a plain apartment with only a few decorations on the wall. You were content a few minutes ago, so what changed? Here is the answer: comparison, the thief of all joy.
Personally, I have been struggling with comparing myself to other people without even realizing that I was doing it. After evaluating my feelings and talking with some of my loved ones, I saw the truth. I am absolutely blessed, but I was bogging myself down with all of the comparisons. What if I was taller, skinnier, richer, faster, prettier, etc.? Would any of these things make me happier? Well, the simple answer is no. This is my discovery after experiencing years of comparison and envy.
1. Realize where your source of joy lies. I guess the better way to say this is: realize who your source of joy is.
You always hear about joy spreading throughout the world, but where does this joy come from? Peter answers this question by stating in 1 Peter 1:8-9, “Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls” (New International Version). In this short passage, Peter points out that we are filled with joy because of our faith. We do not find joy in our circumstances. Instead, our joy is anchored in Christ alone. Although we might experience hard times, our joy would never waver, unless we are placing our joy in the hands of something or someone apart from Christ. If we place our happiness in the material world, then we might be upset if we do not have the nicest things. However, if we place our joy in Christ’s hands, then we will be joyful and content with life no matter our circumstances.
2. Remember that the grass is not always greener on the other side.
When I was younger, one of my teachers talked with me about this saying: the grass is always greener on the other side. She pointed out that this is never the case. If we have this mentality, then we will always be comparing our lives to others and living in envy. She told me something that I will never forget: the grass is always greener where you water it. Rather than comparing your life to those around you, simply take time to enjoy the blessings you have. Invest in the different aspects of your life that you typically take for granted. Instead of complaining about how you work too much, invest your time and make a difference in your work-place. Perhaps changing your perception will change your reality. If you walk into work with a more upbeat attitude, you will most likely be more productive and have a better day altogether.
3. Realize most Snapchats, Instagram posts, and Facebook posts are only the most interesting part of peoples’ days.
Each post you see on social media is probably a glimpse of that person’s day. They don’t take photos or videos of the hard parts of the day, whether it is visiting an ailing parent in the hospital or working overtime to provide for their family. I am sure they sit at home oftentimes and think the same things you think about them. Everybody only posts the most exciting moments of their lives, so never let them get you bogged down. You may have experienced exhilarating moments throughout the week, but if you keep comparing yourself to others, then you may never notice them.
4. Lastly, take time to make a list of all your blessings.
In middle school, I was in a class focused around being grateful and thankful for all of the things each of the students had in his or her life, big and small. At the beginning of each class, my teacher had us write down things we appreciated for about ten minutes. Some mornings I would be in a sour mood, so it would take me a bit longer to start the assignment. After a few minutes, however, my attitude would start to change. I would realize how grateful I should be for all of the blessings in my life. Whether it was my grandmother getting out of the hospital or a simple sunrise, my day was radically transformed. I think it is interesting that we are called to rejoice in the bad times as well as the good times. Philippians 4:6 states, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God” (NIV). Personally, I think the word thanksgiving is a key aspect of this scripture. We are not to pray and grumble about our anxieties and hardships. Instead, we are to thank God in the midst of all of these problems. I definitely believe there is a connection between gratefulness and attitude.
After trying a few of these tips, I hope you will start to see all of the amazing things in this world that most people take for granted. Stop feeling down about the things that you do not have. Rejoice in the blessings He gives you daily instead. Be present, be active, and never stop being grateful.