An Excerpt from Happiness
from the Inside Out
root of much unhappiness is comparison. Comparison gets in the way of healthy
self-appreciation — and thus happiness — more than anything else. Because of
comparison, hardly anybody is ever happy with what they get and nothing’s ever
good enough for practically everybody. That’s because we measure our success in
anything by comparing it to what others have or to what we have had before. In
other words, whether you are happy with what you get depends on how it measures
up to some norm. That norm depends on two things: what other people get (social
comparison), and what you yourself are used to getting (habituation). It is hard
for success in any form (money, status, prestige, and so on) to improve your
happiness because as actual success rises, the norm by which success is judged
rises in step.
study, for instance, found Olympic bronze medalists to be happier than silver
medalists. The bronze medalists, it turns out, tended to compare themselves with
all the people who competed but won no medal at all, while the silver medalists
compared themselves with the gold medal winners and tortured themselves with the
belief that they could have — should have — won the gold. Similarly, in
families, it has been found that the more your spouse earns, the less satisfied
you are with your own job.
we constantly compare ourselves to others, we don’t feel good about what we have
and who we are. The grass seems perennially greener in your neighbor’s lawn.
Continuing with this metaphor, it might be said that the grass always seems to
be greener in your neighbor’s yard because (1) you’re urinating on your own lawn
and (2) you’re looking at your neighbor’s lawn from your lawn, and everything
looks better from a distance. There is only one solution to this “grass is
greener” problem: practicing self-appreciation. Self-appreciation involves both
staying off of other people’s lawns and taking care of your own.
Appreciate Your Own Lawn
ingredient in happiness is appreciating your life as it is. You can do this by
keeping an appreciation log. Just list the positive aspects of things in your
life. List the positive aspects of what you have and what you appreciate about
your life and the people in it. And be sure to make a list of what you
appreciate about yourself. Do this at least once a week — every day is even
better. Science has found that the benefits of being grateful are optimized when
you focus on appreciation at least once a week. This exercise isn’t about
wearing rose-colored glasses as much as it is about appreciating what’s worthy
of appreciation. Some things are just bad. If you can’t change them, learn to
you’re feeling particularly frustrated, jealous, or hopeless, see if you can’t
sit down and write out a list of things you appreciate about your current
situation. By doing so, you’ll come to the realization that you have enough and
do enough already. And when you do decide to get or do more, it will come from a
positive, healthy, loving, inspired place instead of a dark, negative, and
unhealthy bottomless pit.
fully appreciate yourself and your life, you have to ignore what others think of
you, what others have, and what others do. Only your thoughts influence your
happiness. Others’ thoughts of you do not affect your happiness. Only your
thoughts about their thoughts affect how you feel. Only your thoughts about what
they have and what they do influence your feelings of well-being. You can change
your thoughts and you can’t change theirs. What others think, say, do, or have
has nothing to do with you.
only opinion in the entire universe that is of importance to you is your own.
And your opinion affects your entire life. Nobody else needs to get what you’re
doing or agree with it. So replace your shopping sprees, working sprees,
pleasure sprees, complaining sprees, and unhappiness sprees with an appreciation
spree. Shop for things to appreciate about your life and yourself, not for
things to purchase or improve. Never admire somebody else’s fortune so much that
you become dissatisfied with your own.
Robert Mack is
the author of Happiness from the Inside Out. He is the resident life coach for
Miami Life Center, of Travel & Leisure’s top twenty-five health and
wellness centers. Visit him online at
# # #
with permission from Happiness from the Inside Out
2009 by Robert Mack. Printed with permission of New World Library,
Novato, CA. Reprinted with permission of New World Library, Novato, CA.
purchase this book from Amazon.com, click here!