by Renee Pedro | Featured Contributor
Are you happy? That shouldn’t be hard to answer, but for some of us of it is. Many of us measure our happiness based on outside factors. where we are getting it wrong. Our distorted views of happiness are influenced by what society says happiness is.
This isn’t new. It’s the story of” Keeping up with the Joneses.” A comic strip created by Arthur R. Momand in 1916. It was about the McGinis family and their struggle to keep up with their neighbors the Joneses. Today the Joneses are not only the people across the street. They are your friends and the friends of your friends in your social media news feed. Why are we wasting our lives comparing ourselves to other people? I know women are especially guilty of this. We compare ourselves to other women all the time. How are you ever going to keep up with those countless images of “Perfection” in your Instagram feed? Why do you want to?
When you scroll by a picture of a friend in her perfect living room, with her perfectly coifed toddlers, do you think, darn why can’t we take a family photo like that? What you don’t know is, on her dining room table are stacks of clean laundry, that she hasn’t put away yet. Or that two minutes before the photo the toddlers were covered in chocolate. She’s not Mrs. Jones, either. Like you, she’s trying to keep up. I’m not saying I want to see everyone’s dirty laundry in my social media feed. I just want more people to be real. I “ll go first. There’s an overflowing laundry basket in my bedroom, there are dishes in the sink, dust bunnies in the dining room, and my desk is a mess. There that feels better. I’ll let you in on a secret, perfection doesn’t exist, despite what Instagram tells you.
A long time ago, I made a decision not to be Mrs. McGinis anymore. I don’t want to keep up with Joneses. When I was comparing myself to other people, I wasn’t appreciating who I am and what I have. This is a self-defeating habit. Once we stop striving for an Instagram worthy life we can have a really happy life. On your own terms. Teddy Roosevelt, said “Comparison is the thief of joy”
Once you realize you don’t have to be better than she is. Nor do you have to be thinner, taller, smarter or richer. You can start being happy. If you are being who you want to be, how can anyone tell you, you’re doing it wrong. The only thing you have to be is your best you. To be comfortable in your own skin means being happy to let people know who you really are. I spent my twenties believing that life was a competition, it’s not. There’s no finish line and there is no finite amount of success, money or happiness. There is enough to go around. When it comes to happiness, one size doesn’t fit all. Your happy isn’t the same as my happy. Happiness is personal, and you have to design YOUR happy.
Have you ever heard anyone say, “She marches to the beat of her own drum”? It’s not usually meant as a compliment. When someone says that, people hear, she’s quirky, she doesn’t quite fit in, she likes to do things her own way. It should be a compliment, because being you, and living life on your own terms is tremendous. If you’re an entrepreneur and you’re building your brand you need to march to the beat of your own drum. You’ll never have great happiness living by someone else’s standards. You didn’t start your business to do the same things the same way they have always been done. Why bother?
The first step should be to figure out what your happiness looks like. With all the challenges of running your own business, you should at least be doing it in a way that makes you happy? Everything about your business should reflect who you are and your personality. A few months ago I reconnected with a friend I hadn’t talk to in over fifteen years. We were very close in our twenties, then she moved back to the west coast and after a few years, we lost contact. She searched for me online and found my business Crash Pad Designs. She emailed me and said, “Pedro,(she’s always called me by my last name) as soon as I saw your website I knew it was you.” I was very happy to hear from my old friend. I was also happy and proud, to hear that my business was a reflection of my personality. What a compliment, I was marching to the beat of my own drum.
Here’s a question. What comes first success or happiness?
Every business owner wants to be successful, but if you’re not happy are you really successful? If you’ve already made the decision to be your own boss, don’t hold back now. Whatever your business, you can, of course, find inspiration from other people. Inspiration is awesome but, imitating someone else is stressful and unfulfilling. Running your own business is hard enough, no need to make it harder. So take that inspiration and do it your way. Then one day someone will find inspiration in you.
The moral of the comic strip was, the McGinnis family could never keep up with the Jones. Even back in 1916, the goal post was always moving. Trying to live a life based on other people’s standards of success and happiness, means you will always be chasing a moving goal post.
I am still active on social media and I still count how many people like my post. But I am not chasing that moving goal post. I have dirty clothes on the floor, dust bunnies, and my favorite jeans are getting tight, but I’m really happy.
So what does your happy look like?