Alright, time to ‘fess up people! We are ALL guilty of two things that can be detrimental to our happiness and they are Overthinking and Social Comparison. In modern western society most people do this on the daily basis and we do it without even acknowledging it. There can be a number of reasons for over thinking and social comparison. Could it be that we believe thinking things through over and over will ultimately make us feel better about a decision? Or is it that we sabotage ourselves by using social comparison, we think that surely the other person is greater than us and we could never be like them? These are not the tools for happiness, so what can we do to fix it?
“Numerous studies over the past two decades have shown that to the contrary, overthinking ushers in a host of adverse consequences: It sustains or worsens sadness, fosters negatively biased thinking, impairs a person’s ability to solve problems, saps motivation, and interferes with concentration and initiative.” –Sonja Lyubomirsky
Now that we have established that Overthinking and Social Comparison are most likely to result in negative feelings and sadness, here are some solutions besides “just don’t think about it” because that usually makes it worse:
- Focus On What You Have. Instead of comparing yourself to Christiana Aguilera and thinking that you will never have a voice like hers, remember how good you are at cooking, telling jokes, or giving gifts! Those are all great qualities and you should be very proud!
- Congratulate others. You are having a friendly competition at game night. There are three other couples at your house and everybody decides to play charades, so you split up into teams of four. Unfortunately your team ends up losing after a very intense game, instead of being a sore loser, tell the other team how great they were and that they had great teamwork. Remember that you win some and lose some, don’t get bent out of shape!
- Avoid “Overthinkers” and Situations. Depending on your friends you may be compelled to overthink and analyze every situation if that is what they do as well. Try limiting your time with those friends or do not engage yourself in those conversations and divert the subject.
THROW OUT YOUR DAILY/WEEKLY ROUTINE AND START DOING SOMETHING DIFFERENT IN ORDER TO CHALLENGE YOURSELF TO LEARN AND GROW. BY KEEPING THE SAME ROUTINE YOU WILL FALL BACK INTO OVERTHINKING AND SOCIAL COMPARISON, SO WHEN YOU HAVE SOME FREE TIME, UTILIZE IT BY DOING SOMETHING NEW! ATTEMPTING TO KEEP UP WITH THE JONSES WILL KEEP YOU FROM YOUR HAPPY PLACE.
Every so often I’ve found it’s helpful to go back to basics revisiting the simple steps that create more joy, peace, contentment and fun by adapting the perspective of what Buddhist tradition calls the beginner’s mind. You know, the Happiness 101 stuff that we lose sight of when caught up in living life at the speed of light headed towards a destination of some goal or another. This week’s blog post is one in a series of twelve hows of happiness reminding us of several scientifically proven ways we can increase our H-Factor each and every day. Go forth and create some happiness today…
With Gratitude and in happiness,
Lisa Cypers Kamen