How to become instantly happier

I realised some time ago that to instantly feel more content and at ease with myself, I needed to stop comparing myself to other people.

Of course, this seems simple in theory. The truth is, it took a very long time for me to put this into practice. We are surrounded by other people all the time: friends, family, co-workers, schoolmates, roommates, even strangers. These are people whom we often deem more successful, better looking, more intelligent, funnier, more popular, basically just better.

But who says that they really are better? Who actually measures these things? And what is better anyway? I mean, Usain Bolt is a better sprinter than me (allegedly), but I’m not going to cry about it.

The truth is, these insecurities lie within ourselves. We make the comparisons. In some ways, it is perfectly normal. Competition is what drives us to succeed. But what about when we become consumed by feelings of inadequacy? Sometimes these comparisons with other people do more to hinder us than to help us.

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When I was in school, I constantly compared myself to my classmates. When a test was returned to me, I was more concerned with what grade the people around me received than my own. My friend Laura was brilliant at science. It just seemed effortless to her. I, on the other hand, struggled with it. Whenever Laura got an A, all I could do was question my own ability, or perceived lack thereof. I would plague myself with questions: why can’t I get an A? What’s she doing that I’m not doing?

It took me some time to realise that science just wasn’t my strong suit. I loved it, but I had to work very hard to even maintain a C grade. My strengths in school were English and history. I received a pretty constant stream of A grades in both (self-five), but of course I didn’t focus on that. I focused on how poorly I was performing in science.
In short, I was focusing on what I couldn’t do, rather than what I could. I was also focusing on what Laura’s strengths were, which was just counter-productive. I should have been solely focusing on me.

This sense of inadequacy was evident in other aspects of my life too. I had serious insecurities about how I looked. My hair has always been curly, but that wasn’t fashionable throughout my teenager years. My two best friends had sleek and frizz-free hair and it bothered me that no matter how much I straightened my hair, it was never as smooth as theirs. I know that sounds so shallow, but during that delicate time of my life, it really seemed important.

I constantly compared myself to my female friends. I didn’t feel tall enough, thin enough, blond enough, my eyelashes weren’t curly enough, my collarbone wasn’t as pronounced, my nails weren’t as long, my eyebrows weren’t as arched, my fingers weren’t as lithe…I literally experienced all of these inadequacies and they tortured me. I scoured beauty magazines for tips, which definitely didn’t help the situation. As the lyric in Everyone’s Free (To Wear Sunscreen) goes

Do NOT read beauty magazines, they will only make you feel ugly.

Looking back, it seems ridiculous that I let these thoughts consume me. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve become much more comfortable in my skin. I have my mother’s eyes, my father’s nose (not literally, I should point out), and my grandmother’s curls. I have decided that it is a beautiful thing that a part of them will be with me (and a part of me) always. Why would I want to look like someone else?

I could also talk about how we often have these feelings in the workplace. We all have that workmate that seems more diligent, more efficient, more conscientious. I’ve come to realise that yes, these people are often great workers, but they harbour the same insecurities as everyone else. They have the same capacity for failure (and fear of it) as the rest of us.

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I’m sure this doesn’t apply to you…

So my lovely readers, my point is that happiness often alludes us throughout our lifetimes and this is often the result of our own feelings of inadequacies. These feelings come from within. Once we stop comparing ourselves to everyone else, we can focus on being the best version of ourselves, not someone else.

Man, I feel like this right now:

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But really, this is more apt:

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55 thoughts on “How to become instantly happier

      • janeybgood says:

        You’ll grow up (which you already have done really) to be a much better person than I am. At your age, I was probably inserting cutouts of myself into Backstreet Boy posters.

      • deepbluesandseafoamgreens says:

        The fact that you care literally breaks my little heart. It’s so sweet.
        And I have smiled a bit today! I even hugged a friend! LIKE WOW!!!🙂

      • janeybgood says:

        I do care. Because I know that this is a virtual place, but that you are a real person out there with real struggles and sometimes it’s easier to talk to someone you’ve never met. Glad to hear you hugged someone, that’s always a good thing. Except if the person happens to be a bear. Then not so much🙂

      • deepbluesandseafoamgreens says:

        Hehehe! And yay IVE BEEN ACKNOWLEDGED!!!! I feel like someone, here with my blog. God…sounds cheesy but it’s hard to imagine my teenage days without the blog. It’s..it’s so weird.
        Ah…bears eh? Bring it on!

  1. Cheryl says:

    All true. And there are few among us who are not guilty at one time or another. Aging has a way of calming our fears-if we haven’t killed something yet. And you are right. DON’T look at fashion magazines, well, almost any of them do it these days. I love Dr. Oz’s little magazine though. And, I so love your ending cartoon. Made me laugh.🙂

    • janeybgood says:

      Thanks! You’re right, I think getting older definitely helps. I was a very sensitive teenager and this lasted into my college years.

      I used to live by magazines until fairly recently but I realised that they were doing more to make me feel bad than good so I stopped reading them. Some are okay, and seem to have good intentions, but most are designed to convince you into buying things you don’t need, like one giant advertisement.

      Thank you so much for reading and commenting🙂

  2. weight2lose2013 says:

    My captain, my captain! In other words, we are in control of our own happiness. It’s a hard concept to accept, but it’s true. Love the photos. Some of my favorite movies. The Big Lebowski is near the top. Dude!

  3. jmgajda says:

    This was a much needed reminder of what’s important and what we should be focusing on. We all KNOW this but sometimes we need to remember that we know this. It’s so easy to get caught up in the comparison game, especially on Facebook. Someone’s always going on vacation someplace amazing, or bought a new house, getting married, had a baby, is SO in love and their life is amazing! Of course everyone’s life looks better through the distance of a screen but we forget this. So thank you for reminding us. And for the pics, ’cause the pics you chose for this piece were awesome. Totally fun and funny!
    🙂

  4. Becca Joyce says:

    I love that shot of Jayne Mansfield and Sophia Loren – classic. Comparing myself to others is exactly why I stay off Facebook as much as possible. That’s when it gets to me. Everyone seems to be having a much better life than mine!!!! When I stay off FB, I’m perfectly happy with my humble lot. Great post, Janey.

    • janeybgood says:

      It’s a great picture, I love it haha!
      Yeah, Facebook can be a dangerous place when you’re feeling any bit insecure. I always feel though that if people were fully content with their lives, they would be out enjoying them rather than posting all the minute details about it on FB.

      Thanks for your comment Becca🙂

  5. TooFullToWrite says:

    Great post Janey, you are very consistent with the quality of your material. It is the comparison thing that is a killer. Like you say, the moment you train yourself to phase it out or turn it off, things become a lot more fun and life a lot more interesting. Being more comfortable in your skin does come with age, I’m far happier with myself now in life than I was ten years ago and it is only time/experience that teaches you this valuable lesson. It is a matter of perspective – other people aren’t better than you, they’re your equal, treat them as equals with love and respect and you’ll get it back tenfold!

    • janeybgood says:

      Good to hear from you🙂
      I agree with everything you have said. Time is really the best teacher (cliché or not). And the last thing you said, well that’s why you’re a poet🙂 Beautifully put.

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