On Long Island, we are no strangers to envy. Between houses in the Hamptons, incredible shopping, and proximity to New York, we know very well what money can and can’t buy. And it seems that everywhere we turn, there is another reason to compare ourselves to others.
Especially on Facebook. At the time of writing, with close to 1.35 billion active users worldwide and perhaps 4 - 10 million users in NYC city and surrounding areas, Facebook may appear to show us just how much we’re missing out on.
Dealing With A Not So Perfect World
That perfect family, perfect vacation, perfect relationship, perfect job are all so easy to click through and allow to filter into our consciousness.
It can sometimes seem like another’s happiness is detracting from our own – if someone else is given that promotion, it might somehow diminish the great job we are doing at work. Perhaps even some similar thoughts as these have occurred to you before:
- Bob and Sue are always going on such expensive vacations. How come we never go anywhere?
- I wish my kids were doing as well in school.
- Mike and Allison just had another baby. Everywhere I look, babies, babies, babies.
- Alex just got a promotion. That guy has the Midas touch.
- Look how many friends Joe has. Why don’t I have that many friends?
If you’ve had these thoughts, it just means that you’re normal. Envy is a natural human emotion, and can sometimes even spur us to achieve our goals in the right context. However, in many instances, it creates only a sour taste in our mouths.
How To Be Content Yet Still Celebrate Good Fortune At The Same Time
But we can learn how to be content with our own lives and learn to simply celebrate another’s great fortune.
For some of us, this might mean totally disconnecting from Facebook. And that is certainly an option; many people take Facebook vacations or even let go of Facebook completely.
But there are probably reasons that you got on Facebook originally, perhaps to keep up with old friends or to share photos with distant relatives. We can’t help ourselves from wanting to know about others, from getting updates from our friends – it’s built into our DNA.
And even if we left Facebook, there is no shortage of ways to envy another person. It’s in every cocktail party or even trip to the grocery store. But if we learn to live with abundance, really appreciating the gifts we’ve been given, then we have built-in protection against the envy imps.
Learning To Live Abundantly: The Attitude Of Gratitude
Disproving our thoughts: One trick from cognitive behavioral therapy is to write down your uncomfortable thought, and then to disprove it.
- In the case of “how come we never go anywhere”, phrase it as a statement first :“We never go anywhere”. And then start to disprove that statement. Perhaps “We went on a vacation last year to Florida and had a great time. We’re planning our next vacation now.”
- The next step is to reframe our thoughts. We want our thought to be emotionally comfortable, something that gives us a pleasant feeling instead of tension or anxiety.
- So in our written exercise, we could write: We are earning the income that allows us to take the vacations that we want to take. Or: We are putting forth the energy that will bring us closer to a dream vacation. Don’t those feel better than our original thought?
So now we know how to change an uncomfortable thought into something we find more emotionally resonant. But how do we get to feeling abundant, all the time? One well-researched method is cultivating gratitude.
How A Thankfulness Journal Can Change Your Life
The research shows that this truly does help people to find more joy and happiness in their lives. It’s as if we’re searching for the good in our lives every day, instead of focusing the “bad”.
It should be very simple: perhaps three to five items of what went well that day. It’s usually easiest to fill out right before bedtime. Make it easy – keep it next to your bedside with a pen.
Once you start the habit, you will find yourself appreciating the small moments that add up to your spectacular life.
That's why we're even grateful to you, for taking the time to read this article today.
Changing How We Think And Enveloping The Greatness Of Every Single Day
Learning to change our thoughts and fully embrace our abundant lives is not simple.
Sometimes it helps to enlist the aid of a trusted therapist, who can work through each of your worries and envies one by one.
At Nassau Guidance & Counseling, we support the whole person, and work with people from all walks of life in transformative processes. Wherever you may be on your journey, we hope that you find the peace and knowledge that your life is just as wonderful as you.