By: Nina Smiley, Ph.D., Director of Mindfulness Programming, Mohonk Mountain House
Teddy Roosevelt—a Mountain House guest in 1892—said “Comparison is the thief of joy.” And he was speaking more than 100 years before the advent of social media. Today, through Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, we’re constantly exposed to the best aspects of our friends’ lives—fun, exciting, enviable. With this constant stream of curated posts, other people’s lives often seem more fun and interesting than our own. The belief that others are happier, more successful, or more loved than we are, can lead to insecurity, sadness, and self-doubt.
These feelings can be hard to shake. Fortunately, mindfulness can help you begin to observe the mind and disengage from suffering. When envy or self-denigration creep in, stop what you’re doing and spend a few minutes being mindful—present in the moment in a gentle, nonjudgmental way.
Take a few slow, deep breaths until you are calm and centered. Let go of thoughts about what you should do or be or have. Breathe in and out, noticing any physical sensations as you do so. Return again and again to the present moment, letting thoughts go.
Gently become aware of what triggered this upset, as it could be a clue to something you feel is missing from your life. Once you detach yourself from the situation through mindfulness, you can calmly and compassionately examine things. This may reveal what you want to change about your life. While in a state of mindful clarity, write down these areas of exploration, and brainstorm paths to obtaining your goals.
Mindfulness can be a guide to self-discovery if you approach it with kindness and a spirit of inquiry, rather than getting caught comparing yourself with others. Being mindful makes all the difference! It can turn the burden of that “thief of joy” into an opportunity for growth.
Learn more about mindfulness and the award-winning Spa at Mohonk Mountain House. Nina offers private sessions to help you manage stress in your daily life. Topics include Mindfulness in Minutes, Never Diet Again, Forest Bathing, and more.