Emotional Healing

Comparing Lives: How it Steals our Happiness

June 19, 2017
Comparing Lives: How it Steals our Happiness

Happiness is something every person in life strives for. How we define our happiness is sadly sometimes based in how we view our lives compared to others. I was the queen of comparing my relationships to everyone else’s around me. I was also the princess of comparing where I was at in my life with where others were at in their lives. I was stuck in a “poor me, when will I find my knight in shining armor?” cycle or I was constantly complaining to everyone and anyone about “when will it be turn?”. This cycle was only perpetuated as my friends slowly one by one started getting married and starting families.  I had a bad case of the grass is greener on the other side syndrome and I was struggling to find a medication to cure the blues. I mean at 27 I had started joking to friends about how I was slowly becoming an old maid and would laugh it off with them. But I have to admit that a part of me thought, way in the back of my mind, that it definitely could possibly be coming true. I couldn’t hold down any type of stable relationship and the ones that I did manage to have were not even close to being healthy. So in my mind I found myself thinking that my life was no where near “starting.” I kept on wishing on a shooting star that I could live a life of happiness just like everyone else around me, and this is where I learned my problems lied. I quickly learned that happiness is a choice.

“comparison is the thief of joy”

-Theodore Roosevelt

Everyone has a certain God- given purpose and everyone has their own specific path in life.  But, what we want and what we get are sometimes two very different things. That was a hard pill to swallow. I had decided as a young girl that my life’s purpose was to get married and to have a big family all at a very young age. If you could go back in time and tell my 12-year-old self that I was going to be 27 and single she absolutely would have broken down crying about how that was not a part of her plan! I had planned to have multiple kids and a husband by 27 for sure. I can already hear my preteen self thinking 27 was ancient, and she would have been positive that my ovaries were going to be shriveled up and that I was well on my way to being destined as a crazy cat lady.

I’ve slowly learned that happiness cannot be based solely on what we have planned for our lives, because sometimes life throws us curve balls. When my big move-across country relationship ended, and I found myself dealing with emotionally unavailable narcissist, after narcissist, I had just about given up hope of ever finding my so-called soul-mate. In turn I had also just about given up on finding my happiness. I had come to the realization that I kept attracting the same type of guy, and these guys were not marriage material.  It was in this moment that it became clear that sometimes life doesn’t go as we planned, and that. just. sucked.

I had this grandeur plan in my head of how my life should be, that I was neglecting to see what it really was. I was constantly waiting for my happiness to start based on when I found this prince charming (who was just about as good as hiding as the abominable snowman) that I was letting my life pass me by as I wallowed in my self pity. I had heard so many times, from so many people, that I should enjoy my singleness while I had it because one day I would want it back. That I would appreciate the days when I could pack up and travel on a whim, and do what I wanted when I wanted. That I should enjoy my freedom and enjoy the fact that I had nothing holding me back from accomplishing everything I wanted in life. I would generally laugh at them, shrug it off and constantly internally criticize that they don’t know what they are talking about because they’ve found their someone and were happy. I was constantly thinking of those cringe-worthy words as someone’s sad attempt to try and make me feel good for slowly climbing the ladder towards another level of becoming an old maid.

What was served up next? A big ol’ piece of humble pie.  I was knocked down peg, after peg each time another toxic relationship ended. Every new relationship always would have potential that he was going to be “the one” dictated by modern day standards. I mean after all, we had so much passion and couldn’t get enough of each other- for a while. We had the chemistry, and we had all the same likes and vices. We just seemed to click and all seemed to finally be panning out… and then just like that, it was over.  I had found myself in such a hurry to get to the point in my future where I thought happiness started that I would let any ol’ Joe Blow into my life. I felt like I had pressure on me to start a family and if I really thought about it I wasn’t sure that I was even ready, and that instilled some guilt. I had found myself comparing my life to everyone around me and I began to realize that I was rushing through the days to get to a certain point where I had dictated is when my life would start. It took me a while, but slowly I began to realize that I had been put on this exact path in life for a reason, and comparing where I was at to where someone else was at was only cheating myself.

Comparing your life to someone else’s is essentially like comparing pearls to diamonds. Other than them both being expensive gems, they don’t have a whole lot in common. Both are beautiful, both are of value, and both have some worth, but different people have different preferences to one over the other. The point is, that just because someone finds the beauty in a diamond over a pearl doesn’t mean that either are in the wrong. It just means they have made different choices in what they like, and they have different preferences.  So basically, what I’m saying is that where you’re at in life isn’t wrong.  Just because you see all your friends getting married and moving to the next phase of their lives doesn’t mean that you’re falling behind. Just because what you see bringing someone else happiness doesn’t have to necessarily be what brings you happiness. It just means that you’re simply just on a different path.

It may seem unfair some days, and it may seem like you got drawn the short straw. But guess what? It’s the hand you were given and its time to make the best of it!  If you spend your whole life comparing your life to someone else’s when does your happiness come in to play? What happens when you’ve found “the one” and you’re still not happy? Are you going to start comparing how many kids you have? Who has the biggest house among your friends, or who has the fanciest car? Basing your happiness on finding a man and comparing your life to someone else’s is going to do nothing but rob you of the true joy that we are all meant to experience in this life. After all, isn’t our true happiness supposed to be found in our creator?

I’ve since learned that finding my happiness in anything other than Jesus, constantly keeps me coming up short. Material things, people, and places are not meant to be what we root our happiness in. These things are constantly changing. One thing that we can be guaranteed will never change, is God. He is and always will be the same. Start with God, and everything else will slowly fade away.

How do you even know that someone else’s life is really better than yours? What brings one person happiness, isn’t always going to bring another person happiness. Maybe the happiest person that you know has dealt with some really devastating things in their lives, but they decided that its all about perspective and continue to thrive. You don’t know what goes on behind closed doors. The couple that you think is “relationship goals” could be struggling with infertility, or the couple who you idolize for all their exciting adventures could be struggling to make ends meet. The grass isn’t always greener on the other side, you should learn to be content with the grass on your side- no matter how dead it looks right now.  Try to find the joy in every day because you were meant to be exactly where you’re at! Find your happiness and thrive!

psalm 37:4-14

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