One of the complaints we hear frequently about social media is that seeing the edited versions of other people’s lives negatively impacts our view of our own lives. People we follow online choose which parts of themselves they want to share, and leave out pieces of the story. So we get on Facebook or Instagram and see their perfectly crafted narrative—their promotion at work, fabulous beach vacation, dog graduating from obedience school—and then we compare the song of our own lives to their best hits…and feel like crap.

Don’t compare your bloopers to someone’s highlight reel, so the advice goes. And while that is sound guidance in many ways, I think there’s a bit more to the story than that. I think if you find yourself consistently looking at others’ lives and feeling less than, perhaps it’s time to take a look at what’s happening in your own life, and figure out why someone else’s accomplishments or activities seem more appealing than what you have going on.

Obviously, there are periods in our lives, which frankly, suck. We lose a job, or a loved one is ill, or our kid is not doing well in school. We all go through difficult periods. At that point, it certainly may be tough to see others experience some of the successes or joys that seem to elude us. However, if, beyond an immediate difficult circumstance, you find yourself looking at others’ status updates and wondering why can’t that be me, it might be useful to ask yourself what you feel your life is missing, and to put yourself on the path of accomplishing your own goals. You can ask yourself:

Am I living a life I feel proud of and excited about?

On the whole, do you feel that you are living a life that is worthy of you? Are you honoring your talents and strengths? Are you caring for your family and loved ones in a way that makes you feel good about your role as a mother or husband or friend? Do you have goals or plans to work towards, and feel satisfied about the efforts you’re making towards them? Figure out what ‘the good life’ means for you. Because when you feel good about what you’re doing and the roles you play, it’s easier to appreciate your own life.

Is there something particularly appealing about this person’s life?

A friend of mine travels frequently, and posts her pictures on her Facebook page. When I see the pics, I start to think about how great it would be to explore the world. I am a homebody by nature, and reluctant to give up my hard earned pennies for traveling. But she’s a reminder to me that sometimes it’s worth it to save up that money and ‘blow it’ on a great trip. Maybe there is some aspect of a persons’ life that you find appealing that is worth incorporating into your own life. Maybe you would like to travel more or start your own business or sing karaoke. If you’re drawn to a friend’s specific activity, maybe it’s worth considering how you can make that particular hobby or activity (or something like it) a part of your own story, instead of pining from afar.

Are my expectations realistic?

The truth is that even the charmed among us are not living fabulous lives all the time. Do you feel that your expectations of a good life are realistic? Do you imagine a life without difficult days or periodic hardships? Maybe you’re dealing with a hard circumstance at present, but how would you characterize your life overall? Is this a bad day or week (or month)? Or is this actually a symptom of a bigger dissatisfaction with your life? Take the time to put your current feelings into perspective.


For myself, in my most difficult periods, I was looking around me and wishing my life looked differently. But the thing was, I was miserable, so everybody’s life looked better than mine. Successes I didn’t even want seemed appealing because anything was better than what I had. (And how sad would it be to achieve some great life that I didn’t even want?) Until you have a strong sense of what truly matters to you, it’s hard to feel settled in your own choices, and easy to envy others. But once you have thoughtfully chosen your own goals, and are actively working towards them, it’s much easier to feel good about where you are.