Our brains are super complex but sometimes the nuance gets lost when the wires cross between our conscious and subconscious, our prefrontal cortex and the limbic system. This is when we need to be super intentional and really think about why our intuition is telling us. This series will dive into some of the ways, the biases, our brain gets it wrong so that we can be better prepared the next time we notice this happening.
One way is having wants (whether conscious or subconscious) based on social comparison, which we discuss right now.
Welcome to Everyday Happiness where we create lasting happiness, in 2 minutes a day, through my signature method of Intentional Margins® (creating harmony between your to-dos and your priorities), happiness science, and musings about life.
I'm your host Katie Jefcoat and I was listening to the Yale happiness course by Dr. Laurie Santos.
Yesterday we talked about reference points that were mostly internal. I may make 30K a year and I want to make 50K, for example.
But today, we’re talking about reference points when it comes to social comparison. Look, it’s everywhere, right? Whether it’s on TV or on your street, social comparison is out there, and we are constantly using it as a reference point to determine our own happiness. Some more than others.
There is a study, where they looked at office workers and they found that if you knew you earned less than the other peers you worked with, you would be less happy. For no other reason. You could buy the car, the house, the life you wanted. But you were less satisfied with your job if you knew others were making more money than you.
This is a problem when we ask, what counts as a reasonable social comparison? Is it Beyonce or Real Housewives of Beverly Hills? Or is it the colleague with the similar background and work? When we are scrolling Instagram, watching TV, glued to Tik Tok, we are watching all of these highlight reels with people with so much more means that us. What this is doing, is messing up our intuition as to what “normal” is. We start to think, to use as a reference point, that this wealth is normal and we start to feel really crappy about our own circumstances and our brain tricks ourselves into thinking more of this stuff will make us happier. But that’s just not how this works.
The lesson is that we have to be intentional and check ourselves when it comes to who and why we use social comparison, because we are on auto-pilot doing it anyway, this is the opportunity to take a step back and be more mindful.
Until next time, we’d love for you to follow us over on Instagram @everydayhappinesswithkatie where we share quotes, episodes and have conversations with all of you.
The science mentioned in this episode can be reviewed at: Solnick and Hemenway (1997). Is more always better?: A survey on positional concerns. Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization, 37, 373-383.
Get Everyday Happiness delivered to your inbox by subscribing at: https://www.katiejefcoat.com/happiness
And, let’s connect on social at @everydayhappinesswithkatie and join the community on the hashtags #IntentionalMargins and #everydayhappinesswithkatie on Instagram