Don’t Compare Your Life to Someone’s Highlight Reel

An image of a heart on a piece of cloth.

“When you are content to be simply yourself and don’t compare or compete, everybody will respect you.”
Lao Tzu

Today I’d like to focus on a negative habit that creates insecurity within, erodes self-esteem and can make you feel quite unhappy with your own life.

It’s something that has sprung up as we have moved a part of our lives on to the internet and social media.

And that habit is to compare yourself and your life to other people’s highlight reels.

What do I mean by that?

That it’s so easy to start comparing your life to the lives of friends, old classmates or celebrities of all sizes as you each day see how perfect their homes, kids, love lives are and how filled their lives are with wonderful moments.

But is that their whole lives that is shared on Facebook and Instagram?

Usually not.

It’s just the highlight reel of that person’s life. The positive moments.

And it’s natural thing really, to want to share such moments or days with your friends or followers.

Now, for some people this may develop into something destructive.

Into a way of creating a more perfect image of one’s life to get that hit of instant gratification as people add positivity via comments, likes and upvotes.

But everyone has problems at times.

They fail. Get sick. Have flaws, bad days or negative habits.

No matter who you are or what you look like or do.

I have those issues too. Just like anyone else.

I still stumble and fall on some days. Doubt myself or am pessimistic from time to time. That’s human.

So don’t strive for being perfect or measuring yourself against someone else’s highlight reel.

Here are three healthier steps you can take instead:

Step 1: Compare in a smarter way. 

A woman stepping over a fence.

There will always be people who have more or nicer things than you.

Or are better than you at something. No matter what you do.

So if you want to compare then do it in a way that won’t make you feel envious and inferior.

Do it by comparing yourself to yourself. See how far you have come. Look back at the obstacles you have overcome, what you have learned and how you have grown.

Step 2: Spend your energy and time on what matters the most. 

An hourglass standing on pebbles.

Step by step spend the hours in your day and week on building habits that will make you a better person and a happier one too.

For example, aim at being optimistic 70% of the time if you have been it maybe 50% in the past month.

Or spend more of your weekly free time on your favorite hobby or on sharpening a valuable skill. 

Step 3: Let go of what drags you down. 

A typewriter with a paper that says: cancel.

If necessary unsubscribe or remove social media accounts from your feed if you feel they are dragging you down and lowering your self-esteem. Even if those things might also be entertaining right now.

Life isn’t just a highlight reel no matter who shares it.

So look beyond that, remember that everyone is human and stop comparing yourself to that limited view of someone.

In the long run you’ll be happy that you did.


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About the Author

Henrik Edberg is the creator of the Positivity Blog and has written weekly articles here since 2006. He has a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Gothenburg and has been featured on Lifehacker, HuffPost and Paulo Coelho’s blog. Click here to learn more…

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Smita Narain

    Thank you for your inspiring posts, Henrik.
    Will implement definitely.
    Smita Narain

    • I was really overwhelmed reading this nice work from the author. It literally helped to solve some of my problems. Thanks

  • We always compare unfairly: we compare the worst we know about ourselves with the best we think of others. It is impossible to compare without exact measurements. But only fools believe that everything good in the world can be counted or measured.
    Thank you for the post?

  • Good and very practical advice.

  • Sylvia

    I found this very helpful. Thank you

  • Sabry

    My problem is somewhat meta. I feel bad because I am the one who needs to search for ways to inner peace. I have been unemployed for a long time and I can’t stop using LinkedIn to look for a job. I always see younger people with more accomplished careers in my industry, and that complicates the problem.

  • Dean Florio

    Good stuff Henrik!!

  • raghubir singh

    Everyone really agree with you 100? Henrik,
    I made myself trained at a certain extent possible with everyday ritual especially morning and Evening time with the help of meditation and spiritual practice. Our mind is so tricky and speedy to compare with other we generally skip.
    Thanks for writing and helping all the universal community

  • Craig Dunglison

    Thank you again. Simply Brilliant – Compare yourself to yourself – hopefully the person you know the best and can compare fairly / equally. Nice sooooo Nice