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Day 318: Some ramblings on social comparison and gratitude

Picture Courtesy: Google Images
Can I ever be you? I don't think so. I am a different person and so are you. So is each one of us. We are all running our own race, a few of us are running marathons, a few of us are walking at our own pace, a few hopping all around with no strings attached. Some of us are attached to our family and will run with them on our mind and for a few others, it is a lonely walk and whatever we decide we do as we tread.

However, we try to stop and pause as we meet others who are on this journey. We weigh in ourselves with others to determine our strength and personal worth. It could be on attractiveness, financial status, professional or educational growth, status in society, friends, family, intelligence and so on. This in psychology is understood as social comparison.

From a very young age, we develop as irrational beings and the size of someone else's pie or toy will make us feel that we are left with nothing in this world. These ought to change as we grow and mature but does it? Not really. The only thing that changes is the toy or the pie but the rest of the feeling remains strongly ingrained and it lights up when we are facing a crisis. In fact,  in some cases, this itself will be the reason for pressure.

In due course of time, as we keep comparing ourselves and weighing our worth, we can progress to the next zone which is green and that is envy. Envy over time is corrosive and can stress us, create hatred, eat away the goodness within us and even provoke revenge against the person or people we feel this emotion.

That is why it is essential we practice the art of gratitude from a very young age. I even feel that prayers were kind of a way to teach us how to be thankful for what we have and yet strive to earn and learn more than what we have. In the past (which was long ago), we had very limited access to someone else's life, unlike today. We met our friends at school, met our extended family at festivals or vacation, and so on. However, with a pervasive social media, we are watching everything (depending on who shares and a majority do) every day. People forget that social media is a set stage and people only share (mostly) the good and golden memories that they want to cherish. This is totally good and fine as that is the healthiest way to look back at our past. However, watching our friends and acquaintances thrive and flourish usually helps prove the social comparison theory of upward comparison. This is when a feeling of being low and less valuable happens. Of course, for a few who are sick due to health and other issues, these can be easy triggers even if they don't tend to do it.

Now, coming back to where I began, we need to remember we are running our own marathons or races. All we can and must do is work hard to fight off the hurdles and choose our trail or create one.
Practice gratitude and give thanks for the many blessings in life.

So, here I sign off with many thanks for the wonderful life I have even among the hurdles and setbacks that I face today. I promise myself that I will fight the demon in my mind if and when it pops out. Hopefully, it doesn't. Let us always find our happy place!

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