Is Social Media Making Us Sad?

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Does social media make you sad? Or is it the way that you’re viewing it?

We all have friends on our Facebook and Instagram accounts who are more successful than us. They’re always posting beautiful pictures of themselves and their families and they look like they’re so happy. It’s only normal to take a look at your surroundings and wish that you had a life like theirs. They have it all. Beautiful homes, nice cars, exotic vacations, successful careers, perfect relationships and beautiful children. Feelings of inadequacy creep in. You know that feeling, wishing you had what they have…

There is a growing body of research that suggests that the more time we spend on social media the more unhappy we become. I disagree. Spending time on social media is not the problem, unless it’s taking time away from loved ones and responsibilities. Instead I think the problem lies in how we’re viewing it.

Do you “like” or hit the “love”, or “wow”, emojis on your friends’ beautiful pictures of them relaxing on the beach? Then you see another friend celebrating a promotion or engagement or baby. What if they’re not even friends. What if you’re following Instagram influencers? These people travel the world and post incredible photos of themselves in the most exotic places, wearing the fanciest clothes… but how much of that is real? Let’s argue that it’s all real, none of it fake. And let’s add insult to injury and imagine that they are just as happy and beautiful people on the inside as they are out. Why does that sting? Because they have it all? Everything you want and dream for? Well guess what? Their abundance does not diminish your ability to live exactly the kind of life you want.

First we need to get clear on Envy.

“Liking” and congratulating them is not enough. Even if you’re genuinely happy for them, and “loving” all of their posts, if you compare your life to theirs even for a moment, you can not find your own happiness.

Envy damages you. And only you.

Envy destroys any chance you have to be happy. Trips to the Caribbean, job promotions, seemingly perfect relationships, none of that will make you happy. You must find happiness before you can achieve and or appreciate any or all of those things. Some people will never be able to afford a lavish vacation to the Caribbean. Those very same people might be the happiest people alive. It’s all about your perspective and your ability to practice gratitude and value your abundance. If you don’t feel abundant, that is the first problem. If you feel a sting of envy, and your internal dialogue sounds like jealousy or envious of others celebrations, you will never know happiness.

“But how can I feel abundant when my life sucks?”

Your life only sucks because you think it sucks. Its all about perspective and gratitude for what you do have.

When I was working as a recovery coach for a behavioral health agency, I was assigned a client who reminded me of how important perspective is. He had been experiencing homelessness for a few years, and so before meeting him for the first time I had decided that I was going to help him out of this situation. I thought to myself, albeit a bit arrogantly, “This poor man is probably homeless because no one has taken the time and effort to help him.” So when we met, and I told him of my plans to assist him out of homelessness, he graciously declined. I was taken aback, usually my clients would be hopeful or hopeless that I was willing to help. Instead he said, “I have everything I could ever want or need.” I presented him with all of the reasons I thought having a place to live might make things more comfortable for him, and he just smiled back. Now, some may write this off as having given up, lost hope, or even mentally ill. But the key here is the reasons I presented him with were mine. I was offering him options of what I thought would be a better life. He was perfectly happy with what he had.

If a man can find happiness with nothing, then surely you can find happiness with something.

When you can get a handle on gratitude, you’ll begin to realize that you have plenty of abundance, and so much to be grateful for.

But feeling gratitude or abundant doesn’t mean that you can’t want more. You absolutely can still work toward bigger goals and still be grateful for what you already have simultaneously. In fact, I would argue that feeling abundant and grateful will help you to achieve those goals.

Which person do you resemble most?

Person A:

“I don’t have as much money as they do and I never will, so I’m just going to sit here and complain about how bad my life sucks.”

Person B:

“Well, I may not have enough money right now for a vacation (or insert whatever want or need you have), but I have a plan to make it happen in the next two years. And if I don’t achieve my two year goal, at least I have all of this.”

See the difference? As long as you believe that your life sucks, it will.

And let’s go back and revisit the idea that everything you see on Facebook and Instagram is real. Those of us who have a healthy relationship with ourselves and our level of gratitude and appreciation of our abundance are secure in sharing some or most of it on social media. Most of the time people who are secure and confident in themselves and their level of abundance are generally not quick to flaunt. And there’s nothing wrong with celebrating and sharing good news. Celebrating our successes is a wonderful thing to share, but that must come with humility.

…some people struggle with humility

We need to remind ourselves that some people do not have humility. Sometimes when someone suffers from insecurity, they seek attention and validation. People absolutely do fake abundance and will go to great lengths for that perfect Instagram photo. Some people will jeopardize their financial stability to take that exotic vacation. So please remember that social media is a very good way to forget that we all face hardships, no one lives a perfect life. And we all have occasions to celebrate. But most importantly we all have things to be grateful for and the more we focus on our own happiness, the better off we’ll all be.

We all have things to be grateful for and the more we focus on our own happiness, the better off we’ll all be.

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