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?
- She’s achieved so much and here I sit working my tail off and I don’t get half the salary or recognition
- Wow, his son is at an Ivy League schools while my son sits in prison
With the advent of social media, the feeling of inadequacy compared to others is often compounded.
Those of us whose children suffer/suffered from addiction or mental illness 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 instead of a feeling of inadequacy, it can 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’s post about her child who had cancer and I was floored by the amount of emotional support she was getting. My initial reaction was that I never got anything near that kind of support. Not 5 seconds after I saw that post, I realized how utterly ridiculous that was. 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 brief pang of jealousy be our catalyst for admiration that inspires us to look at things another way and discover new avenues to reach our own goals.
Gratefulness is a way out of the trap that robs us of joy.
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 a great way to start your day and one way we can enjoy what we have right now, no matter how small.