How Does Comparison Steal Your Happiness?

What is Comparison?

We have all heard of Teddy Roosevelt’s famous saying, “Comparison is the thief of joy”. In other words – when we compare ourselves to others, it can be detrimental to our mental health and cripple our happiness.

Recent research has found that around 10% of our thinking daily revolves around comparing ourselves to others. The constant rise of social media platforms particularly has increased our tendency to compare. This is generally to others and the lives they portray on their social media accounts – which can also be not realistic.

We all fall victim to this due to the ‘Social Comparison Bias’. This is where we can develop feelings of inferiority and competitiveness to someone who you see as superior physically or mentally. This bias happens in every environment, whether that be on social media or in the workplace.

How Can We Overcome This Bias of Social Comparison?

It should be known to us that the only people who can control our comparisons is ourselves. And the way to control this is through focusing on ourselves and our strengths.

Over many years, Martin Seligman, who is the founder of positive psychology, created a strategy. With his colleagues, they created a handbook that focuses on an individual’s character strengths and virtues.

The 6 virtues are based off six traits that are seen consistently throughout life. These are:

  1. Wisdom
  2. Courage
  3. Humanity
  4. Transcendence
  5. Justice
  6. Moderation.

Each of these virtues has related character strengths, which are identified by how an individual feels, thinks and behaves. Our character strengths are subsets of our traits that we value morally. These are considered to be important as it helps encourage our happiness and wellbeing. In the image below, can you see which character strengths that you believe you are stronger in?

When we are born, we inherently have character strengths that are more powerful than others. However, during our lifetime, other character strengths can grow depending on our development and the environment we surround ourselves in. Through both of these processes, our signature strengths can be created.

What are Signature Strengths?

Signature strengths are the top 5-character strengths that we are naturally good at and that we use consistently across different situations in our life. There are multiple benefits of being aware of and using our signature strengths in everyday life. These include developing greater subjective well-being, self-esteem, self-efficacy and help progress in reaching our goals. It can also improve work performance, which can lead to an increase in job satisfaction.

So how does understanding our character and signature strengths help us when it comes to comparing ourselves to others?

By developing an understanding of the traits we most excel in, this knowledge can divert our attention to what we can control as opposed to what we cannot. In other words, we can focus on using our signature strengths every day and put our energy towards becoming our best selves.

This helps us understand that everyone has different strengths they excel at and can use to the best of their ability. Knowingly using our own signature strengths causes us to focus less on comparing ourselves to others and instead, build these traits to become more powerful. This leads us to feel energised and purposeful. From here, we can steal back our happiness back from the thief that stole it in the first place.

To start your journey on stealing back your happiness, click on the link below to find out your signature strengths.

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