Relative Happiness

“It was the best meal I ever had”, he told me. An overcooked schnitzel and some unsalted french fries.

After three days of being trapped in a closet-sized room, with 24/7 loudspeakers preventing you from sleeping; being beaten, cursed at and threatened – even the crappiest meal tasted like heaven. My father went through army captivity training.

Happiness, like many other things in life, is relative: I just got a promotion and have some extra cash – but my friend became a freelancer and is making tons of money. I’m a freelancer – but a college buddy of mine just sold his company for millions. I had a great weekend vacation in Europe – but my friend Bob just went skydiving in Antarctica as part of his world-wide trip.

Nowadays, comparing yourself to others is easy – just take a look at your Facebook news feed. Everyone is putting on their happy face – so the grass is always greener (no one ever posts about the mundane or bad things in their life).

Even on a daily basis, when everything is going great, small problems can easily ruin our perspective – I’m multi-million startup guy, but someone scratched up my Lamborghini – there goes my day. I have my own successful business but I’m driving three hours to work every day – I’ll be annoyed and pissed for the rest of the day.

So what’s the solution? Delete your Facebook account? Try not to compare yourself to others? Ignore every non-critical problem? That’s one option.

Another option is to write down all of the things you wish to accomplish for yourself, in all areas of life. This serves as a beacon – when things around you change, and you feel yourself being jealous or simply bummed out – there’s always something to strive for. At those times, you go through the list – and see what you’ve accomplished so far and what you can start doing – even right now.

“There have been years when I would have been happy just to have a mattress.”

– José Mujica, Uruguay’s president

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