Sonja Lyubomirsky is a psychology professor at the University of California, as well as a research psychologist. In her studies, she has discovered 12 things that happy people have in common.
I am happy. Even when I'm feeling crappy, I am a happy person. People are forever asking me how I reached this place. It wasn't because I prayed enough, or took a magic pill, or held my mouth just right while dancing on one foot, or was just born happy (um ... NO ... you can ask my mom about that first year). Yet, I have discovered that self disciplines, even the ones which result in fun, have radically changed my life. These are things I learned through my own therapy and medicinal treatment for depression and anxiety. If you realize the concepts in this series are simply not enough, seek help. Insist on it. Find your own personal level of healing, which is different for everyone. Sometimes I speak "happy" with an accent, because I still dance with depression and anxiety - and that is okay.
I thought I'd focus my Mondays on each of the 12 common factors. It makes sense, because Mondays can totally slurp on the happiness meter.
The grass may appear to be greener on the other side of the fence, but I know what is true. If you look really close, it's full of weeds that have just been watered well, greened up, and mowed short.
I don't want your weed. Weeds. Whatever.
Comparing myself to others can sometimes suck up my joy and happiness. I try not to make blanket statements, because inevitably I receive the "Well, not ALWAYS" response. So, yes, comparing yourself to someone who can inspire, motivate or encourage you is good. However, that is rarely the main crux of how we evaluate ourselves against others.
NOTE: I have amazing blog readership, and straight away this morning someone pointed out that a study I cited may have been written by a professor now known to use fraudulent data. I have removed all of this because I don't need someone with their own personal issues to tell me I compare myself to others. I do. All. the. time. There you go. I will let Diederik Stapel handle his own stuff in his own way ... not on my blog! Now, on with the show ... minus like FOUR friggin' paragraphs I worked on this weekend!
When I start to feel that I'm comparing myself to someone (positive or negative), I dive in deeper. I focus on what is true. If looking at a baby makes me feel older, and looking at a senior adult makes me feel younger ... does truth change? No. I'm still 39. I still have crows feet. I still have smoother skin that someone in their 70's. I still have the same energy I did just an hour before.
Truth does not change.
So, I have learned to tune in to myself when I'm feeling insecure, or just generally "bad." I practice sitting on that feeling and asking myself, "Is this feeling true? If there is something that needs to change, what is it? What steps should I take? However, am I believing a lie? Did what I just experience actually change what is true?"
Typically, I find that I am giving power to a lie. I state the truth. Then I state it again. Then I state it yet again. Feeling exist, and you can't stop yourself from having them. However, you can sit with a feeling, allow its existence, and then choose what to do with it. It can be a very uncomfortable experience in the moment, but it can be unbelievably empowering as you work through the process.
As you state what is true ... and then begin to believe it.
(photo by Colin Brough, used with permission)