Absolute happiness and relative misery

In the world today where we are being shown images of the rich and famous enjoying themselves, social media where we can see what our so called friends are up to and the constant newsfeed that tells us what we must do to be slim, beautiful and wise- it is easy to compare ourselves with others. Yet, having thought about it, I believe it is the surefire way to be miserable.  But can we avoid this?

Selfie stick.jpg
A woman records herself on a selfie stick while missing out on the scenery from a train in Sri Lanka

I think if you really must want to compare yourself with others, then pick the people who have less than you.  Pick up people who you might see in the streets, homeless, who have suffered from illness or crime, etc.  See how lucky you have been, what privileges you have had and  how much better off you are.  This is not about gloating about your life but realising that though there may be many people who are healthier, wealthier and more beautiful than you, there are even more people who are in less fortunate position than you. Then do something to help these people. That will make you happier even.  And as the Beatles sang, ‘Money can’t buy you love!’  But this is still relative happiness. Do it only if you want relative happiness.

But by helping others, you can turn relative happiness into absolute happiness.  The feeling of ‘absolute and unshakeable’ happiness is amazing and empowering. If your friend is sad, offer a shoulder to cry on; if you see someone homeless think of ways to help them (and it doesn’t need to involve money!) and do some work in the community. Open up your life to others and the environment.  It is not the relative happiness where you end up comparing yourself with others who you think are higher up in life’s ladder than yourself.  Or even with others less lucky than you.  Misery is always relative while it is possible to achieve absolute happiness.  Think about how much mental energy and time it takes you to compare yourself to others- and just to end up with misery as the final goal.

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