Today, I was reading on happiness and I learned a few things from all I read and so I have decided to share some of what I learned with you.
Before I go into it, I have to tell you what Miswanting means. It’s a new term I learned today.
We tend to compare ourselves a lot to other people. It could be how successful someone is compared to you or how they are having so much fun compared to you. This is known as social comparison.
Here’s the thing. People don’t have an absolute for comparison instead they have a reference point for comparison and so they compare themselves to this reference point.
For instance, when it comes to success, we define success in terms of what we see from others, therefore making them our reference point. It’s not like there’s an absolute measure for success. This applies to every area in which you make comparison. There is always a reference point of comparison.
What’s amazing about having reference points is that our reference points are not even reasonable most times. A good example would be me right now comparing myself to Beyonce.
Of course, I won’t measure up when it comes to money or the influence she has or even the way she looks (we don’t even have the same body shape). However people give themselves these unreasonable reference points for comparison which is crazy (I’m on this table too).
What would make sense in terms of reference point of comparison would be comparing myself to someone in the same field as me. So I’m a Medical Laboratory Scientist right, it would make sense to compare myself with a senior in my field or as a blogger, maybe an experienced blogger. Other examples of unreasonable reference points would be comparing yourself to someone with a very high IQ or comparing yourself with a model etc.
What happens is you’re simply setting yourself up to be unhappy because you are obviously not going to be that way and it will require a great amount of effort than you can give (that’s what I call stress) to become like them or attain the heights that they have reached which would just eat you up and make you unhappy. You think getting to where they are or being like them would make you happy but the truth is, it won’t and even if it does make you happier, it just won’t last that long.
There was an interesting case study where they asked two sets of people what salary would make them happy and able to take care of themselves comfortably. The first group earned $30k and the second group earned $100k. The first group said an average of $100k would make them happy and comfortable while the second group mentioned that an increase upto an average of $250k would make them happy. Truth is even when they attained that, they were still the way they were before the raise. So an increase didn’t make them happy for a long time like they predicted. Sure, they were happy but eventually, it just wasn’t like that again.
Here’s the thing, we are just never satisfied and that thing you think would make you happy might just not make you happy and even if it did, it might not last as long as you think. In a matter of time, you get back to your state of normalcy.
Meaning if on a scale of 1 to 10 with 1 being sad and 10 being so happy and you picked 6 right? Then you are asked to predict on that same scale how happy you would be when what you want happens, you could pick 8. The truth is, when it actually happens, it could be less than 8, say a 7 and if at all your happiness rating was 8 or even higher when what you want happens, after a while, you go back to your baseline so let’s say you go back to 6.5 or so.
What’s the point of all these?
- What you think will make you so happy might just have little or no effect on your happiness
- Likewise, that thing you think would be so awful and probably make you sad or ruin your life might not actually be as bad as you predicted
- If you’re looking at things around to make you happy, maybe getting more pay, a good job, a beautiful house etc. to make you happy, I’m sorry to break it to you but it just wouldn’t make you happy. Will it make your life better? Yeah definitely but it’s not what would ultimately make you happy.
We are never satisfied and so when we achieve something, maybe get a nice car, we move on to the next phase which is to get an even better car. Why? We are just never satisfied. The funny thing is that the initial need to get a nice car might have been influenced by the fact that someone you know or your neighbor has a really nice car and not because you need a new car considering you even have a car that is serving you well.
So now, it’s not even about what you need or what’s necessary, it’s about keeping up with your reference point which most times are unreasonable.
Social comparison is not bad on its own in that it helps us measure where we are at a given stage and how high we can reach for. However, considering that everyone shows only their best side, comparing yourself with the best side of people is rather depressing.
Imagine if everyone is real about what they go through, with social comparison you’re able to see that although Jane has a really nice job, she had about 30 rejections from other good companies. It helps you because you know that when you get a rejection mail, it’s normal. However, that’s not the life we live in today, which is quite sad. People mostly like to show their best; their good times.
What are your thoughts on this?
So this was quite long. Thank you for making it this far.
I also want to say a big thank you to you guys that read this ‘A lesson each day for 100 days’ series and have even subscribed. It makes me happy and seeing your comments today concerning that of Day 2 was so encouraging. Thank you so much. I love reading your comment to hear your thoughts.