In the days after Mother's Day last month, I received several emails from ladies who felt that their day was insignificant when compared to what they observed among friends on social media. One example is from reader friend Annie:
I don't know if it makes sense what's been happening to me, but the more time I spend online the more miserable I feel. It seems like all my friends are living a better and more exciting life than I am, and I feel so jealous that it's overwhelming.
Before I offer three suggestions to help, let's review some definitions.
Envy is to want something that someone else has. This is normal. When we see pictures of friends experiencing something wonderful, it is natural that we would want the same for ourselves. "My friend has a new car, and I wish I had a new car, too."
Jealousy is feeling resentful that someone has something. This merges with being an unhealthy attitude. When you feel resentful for what other people have, you lose gratitude for what you have. "My friend has a new car. She doesn't deserve that, but I do. Why don't I have a new car, too?"
Covetousness is the desire to steal something that someone else has. This goes beyond unhealthy to immoral. "My friend has a new car. I want to take it and steal it for myself, leaving her without it."
With gentleness, let me remind my Judeo-Christian friends that, "Thou shalt not covet" is one of the Ten Commandments because it will separate our soul from God's.
With even more gentleness, for people of all spiritualities, let me suggest a time of separation from social media for those who struggle with coveting. Wanting to steal what belongs to someone else sends out negative energy into the Universe, and you do not want that karma coming back to you.
Here are some encouraging reminders regarding social media:
1. A picture gives a glimpse of a moment, but never tells the full story. No one's life is as perfect as they pretend it is online. A photo of a smiling couple on a fabulous date leaves out the fight that they may have had that afternoon. A portrait of three smiling and perfectly coordinated children won't show the squabbles and effort it took for their parents to get them to be still enough for a picture.
2. Only the positive is revealed. People are generally only going to post updates on the wonderful things that are happening to them, and the rest will be left out. Realize that you are, literally, not getting the whole picture of anyone's life.
3. Focus on gratitude and all the blessings you have. Let thankfulness fill up your soul. And remember:
It's not how big a house is - it's how happy the home is.
It's not how big an engagement ring is - it's how happy the marriage is.
It's not how big a bank account is - it's how happy a life is.