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.


Free Exclusive Happiness Tips

Subscribe to The Positivity Newsletter and get weekly tips on happiness, self-esteem and plenty more.

You’ll also get three free guides on how to stop being lazy, what to do when life sucks and 21 things I wish they’d taught me in school.

100% privacy and no spam. You can unsubscribe anytime.

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.

  • Dale Pumphrey

    Well written.

  • Mary

    Thank you for all the great advice you give me, Henrik. Forever grateful!

  • Anonymous

    Awesome advice.

  • I am working on being happy being a person who strives to do his best in doing what I am good at writing good news stories to be all that I can be in life.

  • Thank you for all the great advice you give me, Henrik. Forever grateful!

  • This is one of the best blogs I have read on this topic.

  • Mannete

    One of the best decisions I’ll never regret making is subscribing to the positivity blog… Thanks for the valuable advice

  • Thank you very much for this post. So many of us don’t understand that people will show us what they want us to see on social media. No one has a picture-perfect life. We all have our insecurities.Comparison breeds ego, envy, hatred, and jealously. If we believe that we are in a better position than someone else we may feel as though they are beneath us. The reverse is also true. If we feel that someone else is above our level, it will stir up a spirit of envy within us because we’ll feel inferior to them. To break the chain of comparison: We must accept our unique abilities, talents, skills, ambitions, dreams, imperfections, etc because we can only be ourselves.

    • Wendy

      Well said Annette. I battled this comparison thing in my young life and tho I am old now, I’m still sometimes affected by it when I allow it to invade my thots and happiness. A really destructive habit. It often happens in highly competitive endeavours so very important to watch for when teaching your kids.

  • Anonymous

    That’s exactly I am going through.. This will really help me to overcome the habit of comparing my self with other people..

  • Cindy Wilson

    Thank you for explaining to me why Instagram and Facebook makes me anxious and feeling depleted.

  • Luis

    I’m happy with my way of living. very simple
    Some people are desperate and try not to feel well.
    All the best

  • Thank you, Henrik, for such great post and highlighting this important topic that usually messes with our confidence most. The picture in our head of how we are supposed to be is our biggest struggle to succeed in life. We often forget, we are not anyone else, we are who we are, and if we want to succeed, we will have to succeed as ourselves.

  • Informative article, you’re article is really awesome and I really loved you article.

  • M.M.

    Thank you for your wonderful blog posts. I love reading them and get value from them. Have you thought of doing youtube videos too to complement these posts? Its always good not only to read this but to hear it as well – it reinforces everything.