In today’s media obsessed culture, we are constantly bombarded by images of women who have more than us. We are told, either directly or subliminally, that these other people are more beautiful, intelligent, interesting or happier than us.
Of course, this is an illusion. We only see the side of celebrities that someone else wants us to see. And, usually, this “someone else” is trying to sell us something.
This is natural. But, as we have discussed before, just because something comes naturally does not mean that it will make us happy. If we want to be more positive, we must learn to turn our gaze inward and compare ourselves to the only person that counts – ourselves.
Have you ever felt discouraged that you cannot live up to the expectations of others? Perhaps you long ago learned to stop comparing yourself to celebrities. But, how about your friends, family and acquaintances? How do you define success in your life?
Why? Because the people that we compare ourselves to are just an illusion. On the surface, they look calm, but, underneath they have the same concerns, worries and insecurities as the rest of us. In the case of celebrities, the gap between perception and reality is even wider.
In fact, celebrities often struggle with the contradiction between how they are supposed to look and act and how they really feel. Because they are always in the spotlight, they often have moments of despair that the rest of us cannot even imagine.
Isn’t it time to start measuring our lives against our own goals, passions and timelines? Have you ever thought that someone you knew had a “perfect life” only to find out that they were hiding their problems from the world? Who do you compare yourself to today?
Like so many aspects of happiness, learning to stop comparing ourselves to others is a conscious process. It does not come naturally. The good news is that, with a little practice, every single one of us can learn to be the measure of our own lives. Let’s explore a few ways to make this happen.
Letting go of external comparisons is easier when we focus own internal goals, passions and plans. Becoming the measure of your own life is a long process, but, it starts with some very simple questions. What are you passionate about? This is a difficult question for many people. But, it is an essential question from the perspective of happiness.
Some of us have lived in the shadow of other people’s expectations for so long that we have forgotten what we really care about. What are you good at? Since we are abandoning external comparisons, it might be easier to think about this question in terms of what you love to do.
What do you want to accomplish? This question is important because if gives direction and form to our passions. Happiness comes naturally when we accomplish something that is important to us.
As you develop our own internal passions and goals, learn to recognize when you start to slip back into external comparisons. If you believe what you see on TV, there are probably only 30 women in the world over 60 years old who can be described as “beautiful”, “sexy” and “vibrant” older women.
Be an active media consumer. Most of the time, external comparisons are sales pitches in disguise. So, ask yourself, “What is this person trying to sell me?” Sometimes it won’t be a product, per say. Politicians, friends and family are also sources of external comparisons.
Let’s take a look at one comparison that most women encounter – “anti-aging”. Every year, women over 60 spend billions of dollars on anti-aging creams and treatments. Anti-aging products are based on external comparisons. They say that if we look younger, we will feel better.
In reality, the opposite is true. We feel better, when we reject external comparisons and focus on our passions. Of course, there is nothing wrong with wanting to feel beautiful. But, we should do so on our own terms.
What are you passionate about? What are you good at? What do you want to accomplish? At the end of the day, these are the only questions that really count when it comes to happiness.
None of these questions requires us to compare ourselves to others. On the contrary, they ask us to look inside ourselves and discover our own values and dreams. When we are ready to be the measure of our own lives, we are ready to be happy.
Write down one thing that you are passionate about and one thing that you want to learn this year. Now write down one action that you will take today to accomplish each.
What unfair comparison do you think hurts women our age the most? What is the thing that you love most about yourself? Please join the conversation.