by Gavin, Unlock Your Happiness.com
(Cape Town, South Africa)
Finding bliss has two aspects: doing things that enliven bliss, and not doing things that create the opposite of bliss. I was with someone today (I'll call her Dorothy) who was sad and crying. The reason for her unhappiness was that she had been comparing her life with that of a friend she had spoken to on the phone yesterday.
Dorothy then explained that her friend ('Melody') has "such a rich life! She is so happy!" Melody is always involved in things. She goes here and there, and all over -- always meeting new people and having new experiences. By comparison, Dorothy feels her own life is so barren, dull and inconsequential. She seems not to be finding bliss like her friend Melody is.
Meanwhile, I that know that Melody's life has not been a straight and simple path paved with roses all the way, or always finding bliss.
So, what had made Dorothy so sad today?
Dorothy fell into several traps that can immediately lead to non-happiness. In fact, she had taken herself into a deep place of UNhappiness. She was definitely not finding bliss today.
Firstly, Dorothy had slipped into the comparison trap
: comparing her own life with that of someone else -- someone who yesterday just happened to talk about a few 'good' things in her life.
Comparing only serves us if it brings a good feeling with it, like a resolve to do something that will result in positive change in our own life.
But in Dorothy's case, she compared the good in Melody's life with what she considered to be the 'bad' part of her own life. This is not a good plan. It always triggers sadness, discontent, unhappiness -- or, in short, a feeling that is not a pleasant or joyful one.
Moreover, it emphasized to Dorothy how miserable her own life is, a perception she would tend have off and on when she slips into a feeling of melancholy.
Also, because Dorothy was already in a not-so-good state in her own feelings, she automatically found the 'negative' aspect of her own life to focus on in relation to the phone-call. And she turned that into a justification of her oft-held, deep-seated belief that she herself is not a worthy person.
The problem with this kind of mindset is that it self-perpetuates. Those who talk in the lingo of the Law of Attraction would say that her thoughts attracted more of the same. In the lingo of Conscious Mental Attention, I would say that what she gave her attention to, she enlivened more of.
The whole experience was grounded in Dorothy's deeper-level thoughts -- call them her 'belief' if you like -- that she is simply
not as worthy as others of having sustained happiness. One might also say that Dorothy lacks self-love and that this is what triggers such sadness and melancholy every now and then. The phone-call was simply the most recent event to trigger her current feelings and belief to surface as thoughts, which in turn would enliven those non-happy feelings even more.
The real point of this blog note is to remind myself and anyone else that comparing our own situation with that of others can be a slippery slope towards less happiness, instead of finding bliss.
I remember years ago, someone else I know would bemoan her family's situation, and make statements about her friends' seemingly more glamorous lives -- statements like: "They're always going on overseas holidays! They're always having visitors. They have a large extended family and they're always having family get-togethers and fun." And so it would go on, and on.
The bottom line is that this person was making herself
UNhappy by comparing her life with the lives of others ... and focusing on what promoted or justified what she saw as her one unfulfilled life situation.
I used to point out to her that if you compare your life with that of someone else, don't just cherry-pick the aspects of their life that you want, and discard the rest. If you wish you had their life, then realise that it comes as a total package. To have their life you must have whatever else they have too, and that might include an alcoholic father, a child who is terminally ill, a not-so-nice husband, huge debts, or whatever else that other person has in their life situation.Summary thoughts:
Making comparisons is only useful if it helps us to choose what it is we do
Once we have realized what it is we want -- i.e. our preferences -- then we should immediately shift our attention to that, and not dwell on the aspects that don't bring the good feelings. Discard the not-wanted aspects and move towards the good stuff. This is the essence of Conscious Mental Attention
which is discussed elsewhere on this site. This is one of the keys to finding bliss.
If we dwell on the 'negative' aspects of comparison too long -- even a minute can be too long -- we are setting ourselves up for enlivening those aspects and experiencing less happiness. In Dorothy's case she took herself deep into sadness and sobbing!Be careful when you make comparisons!
Use them to identify your preferences, then swivel your attention to that and don't dwell on what you don't like.
Have a great day finding bliss. :-)
~ GavinClick here for Table of Contents For Gavin's Blog