The Happiness Connection  

Leave the Joneses alone

Stop trying to keep up with the Joneses

We have been conditioned by society to compare ourselves to others. In school, we judge how good our marks are by looking at the class average.

Awards are given to those who do the best, so the fact that you got 99.8 per cent may pale if someone else got 99.9 per cent.

Research has found that comparing yourself to people who appear to be more fortunate may be affecting your happiness in a negative way.

This type of evaluation, is known as upward comparison, and can leave you feeling dissatisfied with what you have accomplished, or attained, even if you are doing incredibly well.

When you look across the street to the home of the Joneses and see their pool, convertible, and sailboat, and then look at the car that is parked at your small, sans pool and boat, house, you may feel unhappy with your life.

This is a natural reaction. However, thinking that you are less well-off is based on making assumptions that may not be true.

Just because the Joneses have a beautiful house, and upgrade to a new car every year, it doesn’t mean they are successful, or happy.

The grass always looks greener when you are viewing it from a distance. If you are standing in the middle of your own lawn, it is easy to see all the weeds, dandelions, and bare patches.

If you stood in the middle of the grass that looks so lush from a distance, you may well discover that it also has weeds, dandelions, and bare patches.

Just because you see lots of expensive cars in a person’s driveway, you can’t assume they are wealthy. You don’t know if they are indebted to banks, and loan companies, or if they own all the things you see.

Don’t be fooled into thinking, if you can’t see the flaws, they must not exist. Seeing is not necessarily believing.

The second problem with the assumptions you have made, is that successful people are not necessarily happy. Many people who live lifestyles of the rich and famous, are deeply unhappy.

Some of the loneliest people I know, appear to have perfect lives, and some of the most solid looking relationships I see, are on the brink of divorce.

For the most part, you only see what people chose to let you see.

Rather than feeling dissatisfied with your life, because it looks inferior when you compare it to people who appear to be better off, rely on your own internal standards to judge how successful you are.

Here are three strategies to help you stop comparing yourself to the Jones’.

  • Be positive about yourself not negative about others. Most professional athletes want to win, because they are the best, not because their competition was terrible. Don’t worry that the people around you seem to be attaining more than you, be confident in the knowledge that with hard work and patience, your time will come.
  • Know where you want to end up, and make choices that will get you there. Journal your progress, so you can see how far you have come. Don’t just rely on your memory, to reassure you.
  • When you start to make toxic upward comparisons, distract yourself by concentrating on your own values, and focusing on the journey you are taking, rather than the end result.
  • Although upward comparison can be damaging to your feeling of well-being, downward comparison can be beneficial, if you do it for the right reasons. Downward comparison is the act of comparing yourself to others who appear to be worse off than you.

If you indulge yourself in downward comparison as a way to reassure yourself that you aren’t a complete loser, then you aren’t going to boost your happiness.

However, if you do to remind yourself of all the things in your life you should be grateful for, then it will.

Everyone takes their own journey through life, and only you can make choices that are right for you. Comparing your life to someone else’s, is like trying to figure out whether the perfect apple, or the perfect orange are better.

What is right for one person, may not be right for you.

Stop trying comparing yourself to the Joneses, and start living a happier life.

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About the Author

Reen Rose is an experienced, informative, and engaging speaker, author, and educator. She has worked for over three decades in the world of education, teaching children and adults in Canada and England.

Research shows that happy people are better leaders, more successful, and healthier than their unhappy counterparts, and yet so many people still believe that happiness is a result of their circumstances.

Happiness is a choice. Reen’s presentations and workshops are designed to help you become robustly happy. This is her term for happiness that can withstand challenge and change.

Reen blends research-based expertise, storytelling, humour, and practical strategies to both inform and inspire. She is a Myers Briggs certified practitioner, a Microsoft Office certified trainer and a qualified and experienced teacher.

Email Reen at [email protected]

Check out her websites at www.ReenRose.com, or www.ModellingHappiness.com

The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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