You know she spent hours getting that picture Instagram-ready — fifteen minutes cropping it, fifteen minutes looking through filters, and at least an hour writing the caption. You know she posted it at exactly the moment when she’ll get the most ‘likes.’ In fact, you know she’s waiting for you to ‘like’ it right now.
You know this behavior is absurd. You know Instagram can’t possibly have much to do with human happiness. And yet you’re still tempted to compare your happiness to her picture. Still tempted to compare your ‘likes’ to hers.
The slow road to unhappiness is, of course, self-comparison.
Maria Popova, writer of Brain Pickings, talked about self-comparison in a commencement address last year at the University of Pennsylvania. I can’t say it better:
“Develop an inner barometer for your own value. Resist pageviews and likes and retweets and all those silly-sounding quantification metrics that will be obsolete within the decade. Don’t hang the stability of your soul on them. They can’t tell you how much your work counts for and to whom. They can’t tell you who you are and what you’re worth. They are that demoralizing electric bike that makes you feel if only you could pedal faster — if only you could get more pageviews and likes and retweets — you’d be worthier of your own life.”