Most of us love sharing our lives on social media. We post a lovely photo, share a funny video, and watch the views, likes, and comments roll in. But let’s be totally honest with ourselves—it’s rare that we would ever choose to post something that is unflattering. When we go out, take a vacation, or celebrate an accomplishment, we share only the most photo opportunistic moments. Our online presence is the controlled, filtered, shiny version of everyday life.
While we all know this about social media culture, we still social stalk friends (and the occasional frenemy) and feel jealous when we see someone with a better job, better house, or better vacation than we have. We know everyone else is posting the highlights of their lives, and yet we still have feelings of inadequacy or tinges of jealousy when we compare ourselves to other people.
If we consciously make the decision to focus on our own happiness and stop spending hours combing through Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter—lusting over the portrayals of seemingly more fabulous lives, then we will ultimately be happier with our own. You can start with these three steps:
1. Reality check: Start by reiterating to yourself that everything you see on social media is a shinier and prettier version of life and that we are all guilty of it. This isn’t a free pass to become cynical and bitter toward everything you see in your newsfeed, or to undermine anyone’s happiness. Just because someone is posting their latest purchase or views from an incredible trip, doesn’t mean that their life is perfect. Remember to appreciate everything you have and offer thanks for your blessings. Don’t stew on someone’s success as a comparative perception of failure in your own life.
2. Cut it short: Allow yourself less time to mindlessly peruse social platforms. If you’re overtly invested in spending time checking and reading every post, combing through the Facebook profiles of past classmates or exes living their lives, then you’re not living your life. Use your free moments to crack open books you’ve been meaning to read, write in a journal, see a friend in person, or take a walk outside. Make a point to only check the recent feeds for updates, current posts, and what’s trending, and then shut it down. Try cutting out social stalking entirely, and after a month you’ll probably forget why you found it so worthy of your time in the first place.
3. Focus on yourself: What are you proud of, why are you happy, and what do you find most valuable in your life? If you’re working to be successful and trying to achieve goals you’ve set, what are your guidelines? Keep them close to your heart and remind yourself that the social media world is a great tool but can invite negative energy if we don’t take it down to the basics: Remember summer vacation and the first day back in school when the teacher asked everyone to share what they did that summer? In the days before social media there weren’t daily play by plays of sleepaway camp or selfies at the family trip to Disney World. You spent your summer doing what you wanted to, and when you got to school, you proudly shared what you had done. Try to remember what it felt like to be out of touch with social circles, as you were during those summers. There’s a lesson in the simplicity; when there’s no one watching, when there’s no one to impress, impress yourself. That is all you need to live fully.
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