There is an interesting phenomenon I’ve observed. This phenomenon has happened, from my perspective, mostly to women, but there aren’t any men that I currently talk to in enough depth to know if this happens to them, too. And this phenomenon is the destructive nature of perceived happiness competition.
If you haven’t experienced it or watched your friends experience it, you will likely have no clue what I’m talking about. If you have felt it or seen it, you probably don’t even need to read the rest of this blog, but you should, and share with me what you think.
This perceived happiness competition is, essentially, a feeling that your happiness relies on comparing your life to someone else’s and coming out on top. The competition may take place with both parties being aware – perhaps over drinks or coffee, texting or telephone calls, as two “friends” share details of their relationships that are intended to show that they are the happiest. Or two people – colleagues, peers, coworkers – that feel that they need to be, not just good, but the best; this means that they have won the competition, and they have a right to be happier than their competitor.
Sadly, though, sometimes this can happen without one of the parties being aware. Perhaps you have a frenemy on Facebook who secretly checks your profile page once a week, and analyzes every status, profile picture, and friend post to see if you’re happy, and how happy you are. Your profile picture no longer features your significant other? You must be on the rocks. A friend posted “where were you last night”? That must mean you are a hermit, a shut-in. Ultimately, your invisible watcher – in another age, ‘stalker’ – feels gratified that their life must be better than yours, and they can move on with their day.
What is this?
I am happy. I am so happy. I am in a program that I enjoy and am capable of finishing. I live with someone I am deeply in love with, and I get to see him every day. My parents and sisters live right down the street, and they are all healthy. I am not rich, but I can buy food, and pay for school, and rent, and even internet.
I am blogging about this today because I have felt myself sliding into this trap yet again. I am far from proud of it, and it’s a slimy, horrid feeling. This has largely been absent from my life since high school ended (thankfully), although I have a couple of friends who are particularly prone to this type of self-doubt. My trigger seems to be that, if I feel someone else is doing this to me… game on.
I’m blogging about it because I want it to go away. I want to remind myself that I like me, whether or not other people do. I don’t want to be someone else, and I don’t need to aspire to the things others have.
If a person is obviously comparing their life to mine, and is trying to make me feel as if their life is better than mine, it does not matter.
I do not need to win. I’ve already won.
I am perfectly happy right now, thankful that I am, and need to remain so.
Have you ever felt this happiness competition?
Why do you think this happens?