Comparison does not have to be the thief of joy

Comparing your life with that of another can put you in a constant state of unhappiness. Why don’t I have __________ like such and such? With the advent of social media, this feeling is often compounded.

Those of us whose children suffered from addiction have, at some point, compared our shattered, roller coaster lives with others whose family life seemed to be humming along perfectly.

However, if you use comparison to trigger inspiration, it can, in fact help you find joy. The key is to recognize the feeling right when it happens to prevent it from taking you into an ugly place, then to pause and think about what you are grateful for in your own life.

At one point, I opened Facebook to see a woman whose child had cancer and the amount of emotional support she had gotten and immediately made the comparison that I never got that kind of support. Not 5 seconds after I saw that post, I realized how utterly ridiculous that was. Instead I recognized it, called myself on it and thought about strategies regarding how I might be a change agent for others who do need support when a loved one suffers from mental illness and/or addiction.

We can use jealousy to destroy each other instead of bolstering and helping each other. Or we can let that pang of jealousy be brief and inspire us to discover new avenues to reach our own goals. Have comparison and the emotion of jealously be a catalyst for admiration and change.

Gratefulness is a way out of the trap that robs us of joy. All we can do is enjoy what we have right now.

Shortly after Charles died, I was intentional in my pledge not to allow bitterness to rule my world. Good God I could cite multiple examples and reasons to be bitter. But I can cite more examples of things to be grateful for. And that’s an important distinction.

So when you wake up in the morning, think of one thing you are thankful for. It’s  great way to start your day.

The day I realized I was breakable

7 thoughts on “Comparison does not have to be the thief of joy”

  1. I am so grateful for your blog! I have lived with the silence of being the wife of someone with serious mental illness and now a child with addiction for nearly 25 years. Many times I have wished their illnesses we’re the kinds you could talk to neighbors or co-workers about. Thankfully, I discovered Al Anon and gratitude decades ago. It is so important to have a few safe people to share with and tools to keep going even when the person you love is not doing well. I hope more people here your messages and that we can break the stigma of mental illness.

  2. I’d promised myself, after Curt’s suicide, I would be “Better, not Bitter”. It was my mantra. I arrived on an unplanned bitterness journey, this year. I can’t explain, or excuse it. I just got tired of missing my son. Friends by the 4 year mark are tired of hearing your laments, seeing your tears, and your soul’s call for your child to be here on Earth, again.
    I’m slowly climbing my way back up to the Light.

  3. There is such power in gratitude. I remember when the oncologist gave Mom the news that she had at best six months left to live. While we fell apart, she talked about how grateful she was for the many blessings she had during her life. What a wise choice! Thanks for the reminder.

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