This week we will be examining the third proven way to joy as outlined by Hana Matt. If you are just tuning in now, be sure to backtrack a little and check out the first two proven ways to joy.
Way #3: “Avoid rumination and social comparison. They prevent joy. When you become aware that you are ruminating, immediately stop and shift to some other activity. This will also create new neural pathways, and wither the old ones. Get up, do something physical or engaging. Re-direct your attention. Distract. Rumination produces cortisol, making you feel bad, and leads to a downward spiral.”
Before we move forward, it is important to define Hana Matt’s chosen word “rumination” and make it clear that the usage of this word is meant to be negative.
Rumination (noun) is a thought, meditation, or reflection.
There are few, if any, who can claim that they have never compared themselves to someone else. We compare physical attributes, weight and body types, relationships, careers and income, talents and natural abilities, and material possessions, among so many other things. In our minds, there is always someone who is better looking, more successful, happier, luckier, etc. This is a delusion. While on the outside, it may appear that someone is “better” than you are in any of the above ways, it is impossible to see internally what is going on in a person.
There is no perfect person. There is no person who has everything. What is on the outside isn’t necessarily what is on the inside. Possessions, wealth, and beauty don’t equal happiness. Happiness is an innately deeper emotion. One might experience a sense of happiness due to things that they have, such as a nice house, a sufficient income, or a relationship with someone who is trustworthy, respectful, faithful, and loving, but if those things were taken away, would you still be happy?
There is no point or good reason to compare one’s self to someone else. Ruminating on what someone else has only diverts us from the path of discovering our own joy. Everyone is different. What makes one person happy can be monumentally different from what makes another person happy. Social comparison is surface level and futile. However, I guarantee everyone is guilty of this on more than one occasion. It is almost human nature to make these ineffectual comparisons. This is why one of the proven ways to joy is to stop this behavior.
Easier said than done? Absolutely. This is basically the call to break a bad and deeply ingrained habit. However, all habits can be broken.
No great change takes place overnight. This is something that we all need to work on each day until the habit is broken and the positive mind shift takes place. As Hana Matt stated, when you become aware of this behavior, just shift your attention elsewhere. Consciously make the decision to divert those thoughts toward something positive. In time and with practice, this will become a naturally occurring behavior. When we stop focusing on what others have and realize what we have, the cultivation of joy can begin.
Be thankful for what you have. Be thankful for what you are capable of accomplishing. Be thankful that joy resides within you and it is completely in your power to cultivate and nourish it. Everyone deserves to be and is capable of being happy.
Thank you for sharing a smile with us.