Two weeks ago we posed a question, “What if we took all the time, money, and effort we spent on trying to keep up with everyone else, and started giving it away to those who really need our time, money, and effort?”
Let’s swing the spotlight over to time this week. It’s doubtful many of us spend lots of intentional, thoughtful time making a list of what we don’t have and what others do. More likely, however, we spend lots of that time without knowing it. Whether we see someone we envy for whatever reason, or we find ourselves daydreaming about how much better our life would be if we were like him or her, it would be interesting to know how much that comparison robs us of time we could be spending doing more useful things.
This seems to be most of what goes on in our head when we’re deep into social media. Without some careful boundaries, after seeing everyone’s vacations and celebrations, we’re tempted to feel worse about ourselves instead of cheering them on. In fact, recent studies have shown that lots of exposure to social media can open the door to feeling depressed: https://www.forbes.com/sites/amitchowdhry/2016/04/30/study-links-heavy-facebook-and-social-media-usage-to-depression/#5535cc914b53
Let’s cut to the chase. How do we get some of our time back?
1.) One of the biggest traps of social media is not just the informal comparison that it causes, but my challenge to myself (and to you, if you’re up for it) is to spend a little less time on what’s already happened around you and those you know and more time making some good things happen for the same people. Write a note of encouragement (yes, even using social media), go on a walk and talk to a neighbor, get to that project that you’re beating yourself up for not getting to. I’m not trying to sink social media (because ironically it’s one of the best ways this blog gets shared), but just trying to help myself put better guardrails around it.
2.) If you’re working more hours or extra jobs to try to keep up with an ideal lifestyle, take some time to evaluate what’s being spent for what you’re getting. I know this might be a big can of worms, but some people I know who are the happiest are the ones who have traded a big house for a medium house and more of their life back.
3.) Spend some of your time listing out what you’re thankful for. This will help your comparison emotion next time you’re faced with what someone else has or is doing.
I’m thinking about all these things myself. Hoping that you can join me in wrestling some of my time back from comparison.