Some of these messages are wonderful and incite feelings of love and compassion, which to me, is the gift of this season.
One message that floats around during every holiday tells you to compare yourself to others. Such as: If you have (certain things in your life), that someone else doesn’t have …. you should be grateful (that you are not them, have more then them, are doing better off than them, etc).
This message troubles me and as explanation I offer the following:
An excerpt from my recent book on Gratitude:
Dr. Robert A. Emmons, A UC Davis psychologist, conducted a 10 week research in the psychology of gratitude. In one of his studies the participants were asked to list what they were grateful for compared to what they weren’t happy about in their lives. In another study they were asked to list what they were grateful for where thought they were better off than others.
The results showed that those who expressed gratitude without comparing themselves as “better than” were significantly happier than those making comparisons between themselves and others.
From another study at USC on self esteem:
A dangerous silent damage to your feelings of self worth is created and intensified when you compare yourself to being better off or more successful, or more of anything than someone else. By practicing the habit of comparison when you are feeling happy with yourself or your life, you are establishing the foundation for feelings of lack of self worth when you don’t measure up to any comparison in the future. The inherent problem with this habit is that then takes considerably more effort to repair your feeling of lack which can contribute to difficulty in regaining levels of success in chosen areas of your life. A person who can see their unique qualities, success and strengths without the need to compare themselves to anyone other than themselves are found to be emotionally stronger when facing difficult decisions and occurrences.
I wish you all the Happiest of Holidays because YOU are awesome, unique and amazing.
This year, if you see yourself in the mirror wearing a brand new outfit - remember a time when you didn't or couldn't afford one - and be grateful to yourself that you now can give this or accept this for yourself.
This year, as you look into the eyes of a loved one, remember a time when you felt unloved, and be grateful to yourself that you opened your heart to love.
This year, when you take a deep breath of fresh air, remember a time when you felt ill or suffered a disease in your body - and be grateful to yourself for your opportunity to take a deep breath today.
Can you find other areas of your life where you were once without something important in your life, and now your life has changed where this is now present? Be grateful to yourself.
Compare yourself only to yourself and be grateful.
Wishing you PEACE as this year ends; HOPE as the new year begins and LOVE of family and friends.