Social comparison: Why your life can’t be compared with other chumps?

Admit it.

We’re all guilty of comparing ourselves to our peers
or 
movie stars
or our parents.

Guilty? Because we all know how bad it is for our self-esteem, can cause depression and even sacrifice our ability to trust others

Being aware of this, we all secretly or openly do it.

 

Why do we compare ourselves to others?

According to Festinger’s Social Comparison Theory, we do this in order to make accurate evaluations of ourselves. Leon also says that comparison is necessary for knowing the truth about ourselves, or for defining ourselves. 

Or we do it because our parents always told us to have grades like Johnny and waistlines like Barbie.

We determine our social and personal growth on comparing it with others. And maybe sometimes it’s necessary for precise assessing of ourselves.

But all this comes at what cost?

Most of us understand that comparison is draining, foolish and time-killing. We readily accept that no good ever comes out of it.

Yet, we’re all sorry of doing it sometime or another. We catch ourselves falling in this glossy trap frequently.

I believe if we understood why comparison is unrealistic and unhealthy, we’d be able to get to the roots and chop them off from growing.

So, here I give you five reasons why your life cannot be compared with others:

1. It’s limitless

Let’s face it: The comparison game never ends.

You might get a bigger paycheck, a more expensive car, a sexier partner and yet, someone is going to have a better house than you.

There are billions of people on this planet: some of which will always have more than you and some of which will always have less.

You’d look at others and wish you had that too.

Or, you’d look downwards and pass judgments on others to make yourself feel better.

One makes you feel inferior and one makes you feel superior.

Neither makes you feel happy.

Upward comparison can lead to dejection and downward comparison can make you feel sadness and worry.  

Even if you do feel good about yourself for a split second by looking down on someone, you take pleasure in their failures and misfortunes.

And this joy is never equal to happiness.

2. It kills happiness

People think that if you get envious of someone at work, you might work harder and do better.

Or if you compare to someone less fortunate, you might feel gratitude towards life.

Neither of which is true.

If you clearly think about it, you benchmark your worth on others’ achievements and failures.

“Michael has a better car than I have, I should strive and get the best one.”
“Julie earns more than I do with the same experience, I should try to get promoted and earn more.”

We tend to forget that,

net worth ≠ self worth.

And it’s not just materialism that we compare.

“He has a smarter partner than I have, maybe I should break up with her and hook up with someone more intelligent.”

“She is slimmer than I am. So, I should hit the gym and have a thinner waistline.”

And you might get the smartest woman in the world or the smallest size on the store, and you may even feel good about yourself.

But that doesn’t last. And that isn’t an accurate measure of who you are.

Soon, someone else will get the best interior designer and have a better home.

Or someone will have someone you can never have.

It spirals back to point number 1. The list is endless.

Instead of placing your happiness on someone else’s life, be you.

You cannot be the best in anything except at being yourself.

When you feel dejected, appreciate what life has offered you. When you judge, have empathy and realize what someone else goes through.

And what someone else displays of their lives isn’t what it actually is, anyway….

3. You don’t compare accurately

You compare in the following ways:

Your worst VS Someone’s Best
OR
Your best VS Someone’s Worst

But, there is much more to you than your best or worst parts.

So does everyone.

Everyone’s got their goodies to put on the table. Everyone has got their worst sides too.

But all of this is a part of their journey. Not yours. Comparing your journey with someone’s else’s may seem like a healthy form of competition. 

But you may have roses on your journey now and they may have thorns.

What I mean is, your journey is unique to you. Don’t compare your path with someone else.

Because literally, you have no idea what is going on their lives.

Someone might get promoted at work over you, but you may have a healthier social life.

Or someone may earn less than you, and still have innate talents that you don’t possess.

As comedian Tom Shillue explains that everyone is a package deal. 

You never really want someone else’s life, you want your own life better.

You want to have all the bests of someone and never their pain.

We worry more about how well others are doing rather than how well we are doing ourselves.

And you’re happy with less, but not if anyone else has more.

Instead of doing what’s best for you, you do what−in your mind−is above other people.

When you compare your mundane life with someone else’s Instagram life, you are bound to have low self-esteem.

Because what people portray on social media websites, isn’t what their life is.

Do you ever post pictures of yourself crying in the bathroom? Do you viral a video of you and your partner fighting?

If someone asks you “How are you doing?”, do you ever say, “Life sucks. I haven’t been able to work and have a deadline tomorrow. My husband keeps fighting with me and I cried yesterday because I’m loosing my mind.”

You just hold back and say, “Everything’s going great!”

A study in Personality and Social Psychological Bulletin has found that people are less likely to reveal their positive emotions than their negative emotions.

It also found that we overestimate the positiveness in someone else’s life than negativeness.

So, it’s not just incomplete information you compare yourself with, it’s also distorted.

Next time you catch yourself comparing your real life with someone else’s reel life, hold back and remember that you don’t have all the information.

Comparison can turn something beautiful in someone to something cruel. So, instead of peeking on someone else’s life, look inside your own.

Compare yourself with your past self. That’s the only one you should be better than.

Conclusion 

We’re all guilty of comparing ourselves with others. Everyone knows that it could harm relationships, (when turned into extreme form of competition) damage your self-esteem and put you through unnecessary stress.

In this article, I got to the root cause, why your life is incomparable to anyone else’s.

1. It’s endless

Literally, get everything you can and possess all the skills in the world, there’s still going to be someone who is doing better than you. If you list all the attributes you want to be above in—cars, homes, partner, social life etc—you’re still behind someone who has more. And ahead someone who has less. The solution is to not get into any comparisons at all.

2. It kills happiness

The gratitude you feel over someone else’s failures isn’t healthy. The motivation you get to get a slimmer waist isn’t nourishing either. Neither upward comparison nor downward comparison is going to keep you happy. You may get some short-term happiness, but it doesn’t endure forever. It isn’t something that gives your soul true joy. Comparison can turn something beautiful into something cruel. Helping others below you and appreciating others above you is what will keep you happy and satisfied.

3. It’s inaccurate

Your mind compares best VS worst. Comparing your best skill with X’s worse ability isn’t accurate and vice-versa. Also, if you fantasize someone else’s life, you don’t imagine getting the worse parts of them. You desire having Y’s social life, Z’s money and A’s house. You cannot have the best of everyone, each is a package deal. Y maybe poverty stricken, Z may have no time for his family and A may be struggling to pay the bills. Having your own life better is what you really want.

So, compare yourself with your past self. Are you a better conversationalist than you were before? Have you improved in your social life? Does your boss like you better?

What has comparison taught you? Is there anything you learnt that you’d like to share? I’d love to know in the comment section below!

Does MORE Choices Actually Liberate You?

There’s nothing like the freedom of choice.

Nothing so bittersweet. Actually, more bitter than it is sweet.

With the coming of the updated 21st century market, there are too many choices for even the most routine products:40 different types of toothpastes, 360 different types of shampoo and 275 choices of cereal.

It’s no more about what you do. It’s about what you choose to do.

Although it may seem like that more options lead to better choices, it’s not always true. There are counter-intuitive effects of choices, some of which are not to your benefit.

Here, I list you some of the most paradoxical effects of choices that you unknowingly choose to ignore:

 

Choices lead to depression and loneliness

Have you ever felt frustrated choosing the perfect clothes out of your overfilled wardrobe?

If yes, then you’re close to what this feels like.

While abundance of choices give you freedom, it also carries along a numbing uncertainty, depression and selfishness.

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A study published in the Journal of Consumer Research found that choices mean different things to Westerners and non-Westerners.

While European Americans seemed to experience a threat to their independent self when they were not offered a free choice, the Indians did not feel it significant.

Denial of choice might make you feel opposition to the right of personal preference.

When there are too many choices and you have to choose one, you tend to focus on the trade off which makes you feel worse in the long-run.

If choices don’t make add anything, they shouldn’t take anything away either, right?

But choices do…

 

Choices rob your satisfaction

In a study done at Swarthmore College, college students were asked to evaluate a variety of gourmet chocolates:

They’d choose the chocolate based on description and appearance. Then they tasted and rated that chocolate. In the end, in a different room students were asked to choose a small box of the chocolates in lieu of cash as payment for their participation.

For one group of students, the initial array of chocolates numbered 6, and for the other 30.

The key results were↓

  • Those faced with the small array were more satisfied with their tasting than those faced with large array.
  • They were also 4 times more likely to choose chocolate rather than cash as their compensation.

The more and more choices you have, the more unsatisfied you are, even if those choices do objectively better than other ones.

When you choose one among a lot of alternatives, you keep stressing over whether you’ve made the right choice.

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Then, you always see grass greener on the other side. You tend to feel that you’ve missed one great opportunity (read: choice) even if it’s value is the same.

And if the choices are greater than the greatest…

 

Too many choices lead you to choosing none

When I say this, some of you might argue that if this was true, markets would’ve been simpler.

But markets are full of chaos and pool of choices. And you might think that they’re still in profits, but.. they’re not.

city-marketing-lights-night

There is evidence of declining sales due to too many choices.

Sheena Iyengar, in her TED Talk, How To Make Choosing Easier tells about an experiment she did as a graduate at Stanford University in a grocery store:

The shop had 348 different kinds of jam. They set up a tasting booth at the entrance of the store. Half of the consumers were offered 6 different types of jam and the other 24.

They discovered two things:

 

24 Kinds Of Jam 6 Kinds Of Jam
People likely to stop 60% 40%
People likely to purchase 3% 30%

 

This means that people were six times more likely to buy a jar of jam when there are 6 as compared to when there are 14.

Single option aversion is a psychology that has always worked in the consumer market. You’re more likely to buy a product when it’s the only options.

Or when there are not too many options.

And you might think that more choices make it simple, but it doesn’t…

 

Choices kill simple living

Simple living is also characterized as minimalism.

And what is minimalism? Choosing less but choosing better.

In his book, Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit Of Less, Greg McKeown highlights that because of too many choices, we have lost the sight of the most important ones.

He tells that the society’s ability to manage choices has lacked over the number of choices.

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This is what is the decision fatigue: the more choices you’re forced to make, the more quality of your decision deteriorates.

Simplicity always overpowers choices in being successful.

Barry Schwartz, the author of The Paradox Of Choice: Why More Is Less, also says this in his TED Talk:

He says that choices paralyze you rather than liberating you. With so many options to choose from, people find it hard to choose at all.

When you have too much to do, you choose to do nothing at all. You procrastinate to delay choosing.

If you have too many goals at the same time, you’ll achieve none properly. If you have just one, it’s not so hard to focus.

Achieving one makes you achieve more.

If you don’t keep tempting yourself with newer brands or better goals, you’ll keep it simpler.

 

Conclusion

While choices may seem to make us better-off, that’s not always the case. Too few options bore us while too many makes you paralyzed.

With the abundance of choices in the 21st century, choices has led to some negative effects such as feelings of depression, loneliness, less satisfaction and killing simplicity.

There’s a bitter sweet spot of variety where choices don’t hinder your identity: when they’re not too less neither too much.

Some of the solutions to avoid drowning in the pool of choices is to analyze the utility of the choice you make. We tend to remember only the peak pleasure point and how it ended.

You can also simplify your life by cutting off from clever marketing, setting up routines and staying away from distractions.

How has too many choices led you to feel trapped? What did you do about it? I’d love to know in the comments below.

Why You Shouldn’t Resist Pain And Other Negative Emotions

How many of you have tried to push away pain?

I bet you read positivity books and articles and how law of attraction works. All of those articles told you to not think about pain and think “positive” instead.

All of you might’ve tried to avoid actually feeling the pain and forced yourself to resist it instead. But I’m gonna tell you otherwise: Don’t avoid pain.

Go through it. Feel every inch of pain dripping in you. Because, a feeling’s purpose is to be felt. You feel what you feel. There is no reasonable excuse to change how you actually feel.

And, besides, there is no logical reason to resist pain. But I’ve got reasons why you should feel pain (and all other ‘negative’ emotions):

1. Pain Is As Necessary As Joy

You need to experience sadness as much as happiness. Life doesn’t come with all rainbows and sunsets.

You need the rains too.

Just happy days would make life boring.

The pain equation describes suffering as the product of pain and resistance.

Suffering = Pain ÷ Resistance

I was never good at math, but as much as my basics tell me this means:

Suffering× Resistance = Pain

The more you resist, the more your pain multiplies.

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Even if you think you don’t need pain, you cannot deny it. It is as inevitable as joyful days are. Life will give you rough days, no matter how hard you try to escape them.

So, instead just accept it. Accept that you’ll have to face pain. Accept that it’s gonna be a hard time. Rather than questioning why’s this happening to you, handle it.

Whining won’t get you anywhere except in the gutters of even greater sadness. Always be thankful. It could’ve been worse.

Gratitude makes you happy too.

When you accept what you feel instead of changing it, you mentally disconnect from the pain. Remind yourself that pain would come to you, and it’s necessary.

Because without pain, you wouldn’t be as strong as you are now…

2. Pain Makes You Stronger

Think about the hardest time of your life. Or your worst breakup.

You might be getting flashbacks of endless sobbing nights and aching hearts. But now, look a little ahead: Ask yourself what changed in you after that.

You became a lot stronger, didn’t you? You changed into a lot better person than you were before.

Studies have shown that turmoil and trauma could make you not only stronger but more appreciative, compassionate and confident.

Analyze it yourself. You wouldn’t be what you are hadn’t you suffered as much as you have. The greater the suffering, the more the maturity.

A research done in the University of Arizona performed self-experimenting exercises on 210 people, aged 17 to 29, who were experiencing breakups.

Participants discussed their emotional distress of breakup and feelings surrounding it in speaking exercises.

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The results were that participants who emitted their sadness gained a better self-concept and identity of themselves.

Nobody wants pain. But in the end, that’s what makes you a better person.

And, the concept that resisting pain makes it go away is a myth. It’s actually quite the opposite…

3. Resisting Pain Causes More Pain

Pain, cries and sadness are all healthy responses to failure. Yes, healthy.

There is no reason you should force down sweet untrue thoughts down your throat. In fact, that’s gonna harm you instead.

Forcing yourself to stop thinking about something actually makes you think about it even more. Stop being a control freak. Let your heart feels what it feels. Let your mind think what it’s thinking.

Cry like a baby when someone hurts you. Feel the failure exhausting you. Scream the anger punching in your stomach.

The reason why pain is viewed with such negativity is that it is regarded with failure and blurriness of one’s own identity.

But, what you need to realize is: Your pain is not you. Your failure is not you. When you are aware of your pain, you don’t misunderstand it as your identity.

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Eckhart Tolle, in his book, A New Earth, calls something as “pain body” which unconsciously makes a home in you and becomes you.

This leads you to believe your pain is you. What you need to do is identify your pain and be aware of it. Be aware that something’s causing you pain and you separate from it immediately.

If you try to take control on what you feel, you will end up being more sad and painful than you were before.

Sometimes, letting go is the solution.

What you feel is beyond your control. How you respond to it is. You need to suffer to heal.

Don’t welcome pain at your doorstep, but don’t push it away either.

Pain is beautiful. It’s all you have.

Conclusion

While you shouldn’t romanticize pain, you shouldn’t avoid it either. Studies have shown that resisting pain is what actually causes more pain.

And, since pain isn’t avoidable in life, you should try to learn from it instead of running away. Pain is what shapes you into a more emotionally healthier and mature person.

Don’t preach negative emotions but when you feel them, don’t deny it. Trying to escape from something natural is doing you more harm than good.

What was the most painful moment of your life? How did you deal with it?

I’d love to know in the comments below.

The Truth About The Glossy ‘Follow Your Passion’ Advice

Mark Cuban was never interested in technology when he was in college. He took one computer class and cheated at it.

But when he got out of college, one of the first jobs he got was in technology. That’s when he realized, “I love this.”

Seven hours flew by while Cuban taught himself the program, but he thought it had just been 10 minutes.

Then, Cuban started his own computer consulting service, MicroSolutions which he sold to CompuServe in 1990 for $6 million.

Soon enough, in 1995, Mark and his friend Todd Wegner created an online streaming audio service, Audionet (now Broadcast.com) for listening to Hoosiers basketball games in Texas.

In four short years, they sold Audionet to Yahoo for $5.6 billion.

This journey has led Cuban to believe that the “follow your passion” advise is total BS.

He believes in “following your effort.” When you spend hours working hard at something, you get good at it. And when you get good at it, you tend to enjoy it more and it becomes your passion.

Woah. Look how that turned out.

Instead of the classic that we’re forced to believe “Follow your passion and make a career out of it”, it’s “Follow your effort and it’ll become your passion.”

And it’s not the first time that a self-made billionaire has followed his effort and it has become his passion.

Steve Jobs, who is famously quoted for saying “Do what you love and love what you do”, wasn’t actually passionate about starting a company.

In the book, So Good They Can’t Ignore You, Cal Newport mentions how Jobs was passionate about Zen Buddhism. He studied Western History and dance, and dabbled in Eastern mysticism.

Even when he worked on the idea of designing computer circuit boards, he didn’t leave his regular job. This was something he did just for quick cash.

Sure, Jobs eventually grew passionate about his work and he started loving what he did. But he didn’t follow his passion. He followed his effort.

But, then, why does everyone keep telling you to follow your passion?

Why People Tell You To Follow Your Passion

For the same reason that a YouTuber shares with you that putting toothpaste or 10 expensive products on her acne cured them overnight.

For the same reason that porn websites tell you to buy this cream for $100 and grow your dick thrice its size.

They tell you to follow your passion because you’ll buy it. It’s appealing and daring. It tells you that you have a “calling” and you have to muster the courage to find it and after that your life will be fantastic.

It sounds so sexy in our heads. It’s masturbation for the mind.

But if you break it down objectively, this advice is misleading, irrational and vague.  

How to follow your passion when there’s too much competition, no stable income and almost equal to zero requirements for it?

Ah, the classic “starving artist” image comes to mind.

And job satisfaction is much more complex than simply following your passion. It has much more key ingredients than simply the factor of loving what you do.

Also, it makes the assumption of you already having a preexisting passion.

What If You Don’t Have A Passion

“Follow your passion” advice assumes that you already have a passion. You just have to match a job to it.

But our interests drastically change throughout our lives.

In your childhood, you might’ve seen Titanic and wanted to be an actor. When you watched porn for the first time, you thought you’d make money fucking hot chicks, you know, you’ll do what you love.

So, what happened, dickhead? Why aren’t you making porno movies? And hey, I don’t see you clapping on the red carpet when Leonardo DiCaprio won an Oscar.

The truth is, the things that make you happy, the things that interest you, change throughout your life.

Also, you suck at predicting what will make you happy. Deciding you’ll have pizza or noodles for dinner is a toughie for you, but you can surely estimate what will make you happy.

Cal Newport has a way out. Instead of “following” your passion, you could “cultivate” your passion.

Instead of assuming that you just have to find your “calling”, find something that interests you. Work on it. Does it make you forget you have to decide between noodles and pizza?

If yes, great. You just found your passion.

Elizabeth Gilbert talks about “following your curiosity” in her hummingbird speech. She tells you to nurture your curious mind and give anything that interests you at least one shot.

Gilbert then uses hummingbird metaphors how you will fly from tree to tree, pollinating everywhere. And somewhere in the middle, you’ll find that something you don’t want to give up on.

That tree that you’d never want to leave. Here it is again: Following your curiosity has just led you to finding your passion.

And, right about now, you might be thinking, “This is complicated. What the heck should I do for my career?”

What Is Your Ikigai

According to the Japanese, everyone has an Ikigai. It’s a reason to “get up in the morning.”

Iki means life and Gai means value or worth. So, it’s something that gives value to your life.

It’s simply the heart of this image:

80,000 hours has covered all of it in their job satisfaction research.

What I like about the concept of Ikigai is that it has concrete, doable and rational concept of a “dream job.”

Whatever you choose to do should overlap between what you love to do, what you can get paid for, what the society needs and what you are good at.

Finding your ikigai gives meaning and purpose to your life.

Same things said in different ways: Cultivate your passion. Follow your effort. Follow your curiosity. Find your ikigai.

I know all of it sounds so unsexy. “Follow your passion” is so much more sexy in our brains. Effort, curiosity, cultivation, ikigai, not so much.

But that’s what life is. It’s about living it the “unsexy” way.

Forget following your passion. Find your unsexy.