In the spirit of it being International Week of Happiness at Work this week, Boxtree are a huge advocate of happiness both inside and more importantly outside the office.
Happiness comes from within. It sometimes needs to be a choice and effort needs to be put into ensuring it but we have a small insight into a key point that we believe is integral to happiness.
Stop comparing Yourself to Others
Many people grow up in a loving, fun and happy home. Most childhood memories of growing up are always fond ones and those who can say that are lucky to be able to do so.
Most of the lessons that we learn when growing up are normally always taught by parents or guardians.
As you grow up, leave school, evolve into an employee and start developing your career you can look around you and you sponge off everything and everyone around to enable you to grow and develop in every area of your life. You listen to people, advice, to television, you read articles, watch the news, you see people do good and people do bad and have friends and family tell you what they believe is right and wrong. You are impressed upon for what is good and bad, successful and not successful consistently until you forge your own opinions, who you are and your individual outlook on life.
Somewhere along this path of growing up, having all these different influences and influencers, we are sculpted into the people that we are today. It's all these different catalyses that contribute to our principals, morals, opinions and beliefs, good, bad or indifferent.
It's the integral influence in how we develop and evolve into adults, everyone around us. People. People we walk past, people we watch on television, our family, our friends, our school friends and, best friend at university and that beautiful woman quietly writing in a book on her own in a busy cafe. It's the things we see without spoken word and those lessons that we learn from people around us as we grow up, that make us who we are.
Interestingly, what happens when what we hear, see or listen to, conflicts with how we feel and what we agree with? What happens when those closest to us express opinion or maybe even act in a way that contradicts who we are deep down as people and what we have become from all of our external influencers, let alone our personalities that we are born with? What happens then?
It happens at an extremely young age all of this, well before you can imagine. From a young age we start to watch, analyse and compare ourselves to others to form a profile slowly but surely of our individuality. A natural process to establish who we are. We try on our mothers make up to see if we like it and look as beautiful as they are, we try smoking to see if it makes us feel equally cool as we perceived the big kids to look at school.
What you don't learn readily, is when to stop comparing yourself. As individuals, we are not taught what kind of negative impact or effect consistently comparing yourself to others can cause at a time when you need to listen to your own opinion, respect yourself, love yourself and stand by how you feel or what you believe is right. You are not taught this valuable lesson that it can actually become an incredibly unhealthy habit to have, to continue to compare yourself to others when you're well versed already in the world.
Social media, television, magazines and many other machines are huge contributors to this unhealthy habit that some people can't seem to shake. People constantly get told 'what the ideal weight is', 'what salary you deserve for the role you do', ‘when you will be ready for a promotion’, ‘when you should start and finish work’ and even so far as to 'when it is the right time to get married, have children and buy a bloody cottage'.
So naturally, having refined our incredible skills to compare and analyse others against our own personalities and abilities when we apply these measurable things against our own life, if it doesn't match up against the common perception or the huge pool of people in your particular class, race, age or personality, what then? Well in my experience this is what leads to insecurities, vulnerabilities and a low self-esteem. Ultimately unhappiness.
In both a professional and personal capacity, it’s easy to identify huge pools of people that you could easily classify and therefore stereotype. This is all you need as a recipe to compare yourself to the masses or worst still one individual person who depicts what being 'happy' or 'perfect' should be.
Coming to realise that there is an infinite number of people and an infinite number of attributes and therefore and incredibly complex matrix that people can compare themselves to, against other people or against common perception.
This is the thing about comparison, with its infinite metric of comparable metrics and the extensive classes or classifications you can apply it against, how can people that are more likely to be influenced remain content and confident in their choices, their lives and ultimately be happy? The answer is that it's difficult for them to! That said, there is a solution that can be put into practice.
Turning off the opinions, turning off the impressions, the noise and the weight of social media. Who earns the most money, who got the promotion, what car they drive… All you are left with, is ‘me myself and I’.
Start to listen to what makes you happy.
Stop listening to what you think should make you happy.
The fact is, if we listened to the world’s impressions, we should have the following to define ourselves as happy;
“I should be married if I have children, have had an expensive huge wedding and have clever children”
“I should be financially sound, if not rich”
“I should have a million followers on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter- all socials actually!”
“I should have a successful career and be paid in line with my success”
“I should be a size 10, have well-manicured nails, go to the gym 3 times a week and consume a recommended amount of alcohol”
“I should have a beach body and weight lift 185Kg’s regularly 6 times a week”
“At 35 I should have a mortgage and a house”
“A busy, huge social life full of lots of friends, fun and good times”
Since really listening to our own happiness inside and not anything or anyone on the outside, this what it might sound like;
“I don’t want to get married and have children, I would like to focus on my career”
“I am financially sound, not rich”
“I actually don’t like being on social media, at all!”
“I don't define my success in business on money, I define it on if I have a wonderful work/life balance. If I am independent of anyone, if I make people happy and if I'm ultimately happy too as a result. I'm very successful”
“I am a size 14, healthy and I’m not hangry all the time starving myself”
“I can run a 5-minute mile this year, I couldn’t do that this time last year”
“Eventually, I want to travel the world, I’m glad I am not tied down by a mortgage”
“I prefer a small circle of friends and really like quiet, alone time. I don’t like feeling obliged to go out and socialise.”
My point is this. If we all sat at ogled someone with the 'perfect life’ and ‘perfect career’, how is that going to benefit your self-worth? How would you ever come to learn about yourself? When do we learn and understand how brilliant we are based on our own personal morals and individual beliefs? I don’t believe we can when constantly comparing ourselves to those around us.
What makes me happy is being me and not being answerable to anything or anyone that contradicts my happiness.
You should do the same.