How to Increase Your Happiness Instantly

you can increase your happiness

As I read through a Harry Potter book one evening, there was a moment that made me stop and think. I was amazed at the creativity and skill that author JK Rowling demonstrated in the text. Part of me felt admiration, but another part of me felt bad. It certainly did not increase my happiness, but why?

One of my dreams is to write a good fiction book. Currently, I spend all of my time on nonfiction writing, but I’d like to try fiction at some point. And there I was, reading a fiction book that was better than anything I could hope to write.

To see such great writing inspired me, yet demoralized me, depending on my perspective.

Don’t Compare Yourself to Others Too Much

When you actively avoid comparing yourself to others, you naturally focus on what inspires you and less on what demoralizes you. That’s how it improves your happiness instantly.

Comparison is foolhardy because it can make you dislike blessings in your life. Anyone who compares themselves to Jeff Bezos or Elon Musk will likely feel poor. Anyone who compares themselves to Dwayne Johnson will likely feel weak and poor. Anyone who compares their writing skills to JK Rowling will likely feel uncreative and unskilled at writing (also, she can sell an autographed book for 150,000 euros…). Whatever you have suddenly feels not good enough, even though it probably is.

It’s human nature to compare. We like to know where we stand in the world, and comparison supposedly helps us see that. Thus, it is useful to compare and I don’t think it’s realistic to say we shouldn’t do it at all, but beyond brief comparison to see where you stand, it can get toxic quickly.

  • It’s toxic when you let someone else’s talents diminish your view of your own.
  • It’s toxic when you let someone else’s joy steal yours.
  • It’s toxic when you hold your happiness hostage to an unrealistic standard.

Instead of that, look at yourself from the perspective of your experiences. For example, I can’t write fiction like JK Rowling because she has way more experience. If I looked at my level of training in fiction writing, I might think I’m relatively good at it! Now I’m focused on the solution (training) with a more positive perspective instead of feeling bad and hopeless about my writing compared to a superstar author.

Comparison As a Weapon of Self-Harm

Comparison is sometimes used by people as a weapon against themselves. When they use it this way, it’s rarely fair. Most often, it’s done this way to support a victim narrative they have about themselves. I’ve done this, so I’m not pointing fingers when I say that. It’s not healthy or useful, I can tell you that much. It gives you a self-righteous feeling, and keeps you stuck where you are.

Victims, by definition, can’t change their situation. If you use comparison to reinforce the idea that you’re a victim, you are actively keeping yourself from growing.

Raw comparison neglects life stories and different paths. It minimizes and devalues experiences. Instead of that nonsense, we can seek to understand our own stories in depth. That will fully explain who we are, what skills we have, and why we stand where we do in various areas. Your story is so unique that comparison to anyone else isn’t very useful. It only shows you what you could be if your life story were completely different.

Personal Journey = Increased Happiness

The alternative to comparison is to let your journey be personal. Your story is personal, your progress is personal, your skills are personal. Personal means that it all belongs to you, and you don’t owe any of it to anyone else. You don’t have to explain it or feel bad about any part of it, because nobody else on earth has experienced your story.

Life gets better the more you understand that every person’s journey is personal. And to be clear, I say this as an ambitious and competitive person! I think it’s fine to admire someone else’s life, but if you want it for yourself, remember that their path to it was unique to them, and yours will be unique to you. If you’re frustrated that you aren’t there now, think about it in the context of your experience, past, present, and future. Once you do that, you’re no longer exposing yourself to the toxic aspects of comparison. You’re now exploring possibilities within your world.

Everything about who you are and where you are going to be is personal to you and your experiences. If you think about it, that means you are right where you should be. Where you want to go next is up to you.

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