Asking others to be grateful can trigger social comparison (DW#639)

In this day and age, it is easier than ever to compare our lives to others. While comparison may indeed be the thief of joy (as expressed by Theodore Roosevelt) ceasing comparison is much easier said than done.

When we are comparing our lives to others, we sometimes get told to remind ourselves how lucky we are compared to others. This is true, of course. Despite whatever challenges we may be experiencing at the moment, if we have a roof over our heads, food to eat and security of body and soul, we are indeed more blessed than many.

The trouble is that when others tell us how lucky weare it can actually trigger social comparisons. Instead of comparing ourselves to those who have it worse, as they suggest, our mind starts comparing our situation to others who have it better than us.

And of course, we can find PLENTY of "evidence" on social media for those who appear to have it much better than us. Their lives, at least the part of their lives that are presented on social media, appear to be less complicated, messy or painful. They never appear to age. They are forever working out, eating healthy and traveling to places we can only dream of. Their spouses appear to dote on them and their children are the paragons of virtue and success.

So, let’s not be the people who are telling others to be grateful. Let us remind ourselves it is not a good idea to compare our messy inner lives with the edited and polished ones on Instagram but at the same time remember that this kind of helpful advice does not work that well with others.

Let’s practice gratitude ourselves rather than be gratitude pests for others.

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