Everything is relative. To answer a question like: “How happy are you with your life?” we cannot answer without comparing our situation with some point of reference. If that point of reference is how much poorer we were three years ago, or our unfortunate friend who has just had heart attack, or the plight of refugees in Syria, we are likely to say we are, and actually feel, very happy with our lot.
However, if we compare our situation with someone who has more money, looks or status than we do, or how much more we think we should have achieved by our particular age, we are likely to feel dissatisfied.
Many of the most miserable and unconfident people I have worked with in counselling were beautiful young women at university who, by most people’s standards, had everything going for them. Their problem was that they constantly compared themselves unfavourably with others. This destructive mental habit caused them to focus only on other beautiful young women and to fail to notice anyone who wasn’t in their league. If on a rare occasion a classmate had put on weight or said something silly, they felt temporarily superior to that person – a rather ugly response.
Making comparisons that assess people into better or worse than yourself stops you from being the genuinely beautiful person you could be and is a recipe for dissatisfaction.
Instead, cultivate compassion for yourself and for others. We are all human, fallible and prone to suffering. A non-judgmental approach helps you understand other people and promotes kindness towards them.
And practice gratitude for all that you have. Nothing is to be taken for granted. If you remember that things could be so much worse than they are, you will feel far happier.