Don't Compare Yourself to Others

Exploring what makes us happy can also mean finding out the ways we make ourself unhappy. Happiness and joy are natural conditions, but often we can be working very hard against our own happiness without even realising it. In this video from Prager University, comedian and talk show host Tom Shillue talks about his own experience of setting his standard of success and happiness against the world's most successful people and how he learned to stop making these painful comparisons and start being grateful and enjoying what he has at the moment. 

This doesn't mean you can't strive to be better or make a better life for yourself and have a more positive impact on the world, it just means you're becoming a better version of yourself, not your fantasy of another person's life, which often doesn't match up to reality. 

"Comparison is the thief of joy."

- Theodore Roosevelt

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Are you Happy?

We tackle one of life’s great questions in the first of a monthly investigation into the ‘H’ word…

How happy are you? Right now, this minute? Happier than you felt this morning? Just fine? Or are you hoping for a chunkier slice of happy pie sometime soon? On an average day, week or month it’s likely that you’ll feel good, bad or ugly at some stage, but there’s nothing you can do about it, right?

What if there was? Research suggests that a lot of our overall happiness is in our genes. A trial at the University of Minnesota revealed we inherit a surprising proportion of our state at any given moment from our parents - around 48 percent. Up to an additional 40 percent then comes from recent events in our life – but that feeling won’t last very long before it needs a boost.

That leaves just about 12 percent. That might not sound like much, but that 12 percent of our happiness is under our control and it’s up to us to make it happen because it’s good for our health. Good mental health and happiness is more than the absence of mental illness, just as good physical health is more than the absence of being sick and good dental health is more than the absence of holes in our teeth.

For some, working towards happiness will be easier than others and there’s a key myth we should bust here; not all people who have mental ill health are unhappy. A recent Dutch study of 7,000 people debunked this myth, finding instead that 68% of people with mental ill health said that they “often felt happy”. For the remaining 32% who may be feeling there is no hope, there are organisations such as Birchwood Highland to turn to for support.

Here in the Highlands we live in a unique spot which can help support happiness in many ways. We have one of the greatest landscapes in the world, promoting feelings of wellbeing just to look at it, let alone get out there and experience those hills, forests and beaches. Many people have the time and opportunity to offer help to others. We’re a bunch of caring, sharing folk.

Who better to ask about happiness than you? To celebrate Birchwood Highland’s 30th anniversary, we’ve launched The Highland Happiness Project, collecting the thoughts of the community and sharing unique takes on happiness. We wanted to listen to your experiences, to pass a piece of your happiness on.

The people we’ve spoken to so far get their happiness in all sorts of weird and wonderful ways. Some have very unique ideas which will have you reaching for your web browser to investigate! Their thoughts will bring together resources and ideas and support for improving the happiness of all of us.

It’s time to keep ourselves healthy by embracing the happy!


This month we hear from Roy MacKenzie, Terry Cowan, and Stephen Hobban. 

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