4 Ways to Find Happiness by Embracing Your Inner Average Joe or Plain Jane
February 27, 2017 12:00 AM EST | 8 min read
If you’re anything like me, sometimes you just don’t feel good enough.
Whether you’re in class with a girl who scored perfectly on her SATs, outmaneuvered by the guy at work who martyrs himself, or scrolling through your Facebook feed to see all the happy people enjoying their perfect little lives, something inside you feels off.
Maybe it’s jealousy, shock, or just plain amazement, because someone else is achieving greatness and you seem to be just average.
You may not be able to process what you’re feeling.
Realizing my shortcomings wasn’t a good feeling and, to be honest, I was a little ashamed I felt that way.
I should be happy for these other people, not envious of their accomplishments, right?
Why can’t I be as good as those people?
I’m just as competent and ambitious as any of them.
I’m special too, dammit!
Being Special Has Been Ingrained In Us Since Birth
Whether you’re consciously thinking these thoughts, or they remain misunderstood feelings, they’re there.
And they’ve probably been there for years, if not decades.
Ever since that fateful day in school when your parents first criticized you for not doing better, that ‘not good enough, very average’ feeling has been there.
That first “failure” – simply not meeting random expectations – sets the stage for a lifetime of sacrificing yourself so you can please others.
If you just try harder next time, you’ll make it.
You’ll be special and stand out.
Your addiction for recognition has begun.
What you don’t recognize is your failure was NOT on your test in school, but in the belief that once you achieve that arbitrary goal, you’ll finally get the credit you rightly deserve.
You never get that pat on the back.
You never really cross the finish line.
It’s a contest that never ends, and you never win.
Being Average Does NOT Equal Failure
Unless you deal with these feelings, they never go away.
They follow you to college, work, social gatherings, and even dating.
They follow you everywhere.
It doesn’t have to be like this.
Finding happiness with being average is possible.
Let’s make a few things clear about what average means and wipe away your preconceived misconceptions.
Being average doesn’t mean you’re a failure or that you’re like everyone else.
On the contrary, it means being happy with your life, who you are, and what you achieve.
If this average concept is new to you, join the club.
It took me 30+ years to realize that I’m good enough just the way I am.
Still interested in my secret to finding happiness with being average?
Here are four reasons being special is so elusive, and why accepting an “average” life can make you happy.
Finding Happiness: 4 Reasons To Stop Chasing Perfection
1. The Media Creates Unrealistic Expectations
The media doesn’t focus on the average because it’s boring, doesn’t get ratings, and doesn’t make money.
Instead, the media focuses on athletes who win medals, celebrities who are beautiful, and politicians who have power.
The media sells you these unrealistic expectations.
Most of us buy into it because we’re afraid if we don’t, we’re failures.
On the flip side, there are people who commit heinous crimes just to get attention, stand out, and have their 15 minutes of infamy.
And the media is all too happy to oblige.
Ignore the media hype. Be the best YOU can be.
In order to be special in this type of environment, you need to be #1 in your field.
Being #2 just doesn’t cut it anymore.
But in a world with 7 billion people, it’s nearly impossible to be the best at anything.
You can certainly aim to be the best.
That’s a good stretch goal.
If you happen to fall short, don’t beat yourself up.
Instead, congratulate yourself on pushing and working hard on your way to finding happiness.
What You Can Do Today:
Instead of trying to be #1, focus on your hard work and take pride in your drive, determination, and persistence.
2. Your Parents Compare You to Your Siblings and Friends
If you were unlucky enough to have had judgmental parents who constantly compared you to your siblings or to their friends’ kids, you know the definition of feeling inadequate.
You’re always striving to get your parents’ approval, but you always seem to fail.
Despite being hatched from the same genes, you’re different than your siblings.
These unfair comparisons your parents make mean you’ll never be special, because there will always be someone else who’s better than you.
Comparing yourself to others is simply bogus and unfair.
For example: if your brother graduated from college early and you graduated on time, your parents will remind you about that “failure”, even though most people graduate from a 4-year college in 4 years.
Even if you manage to magically grab some of that elusive fairy dust praise, such as getting a job before graduation, good luck holding on to it for more than a few minutes.
You only have so much time on this planet.
Don’t waste it comparing yourself to someone else.
You’re better than that.
What You Can Do Today:
Resist the urge to compare yourself to everybody else.
Celebrate your uniqueness, live life by your own rules, and change course if need be.
3. The “Keeping Up with The Joneses” Mentality Never Stops
Emails are suffocating your inbox, you have a company device you’re expected to answer anytime of the day, and your work commitments slowly seep into your personal time.
That’s the new normal in this 24/7 culture.
Working all the time to accumulate status symbols doesn’t make you happy.
Just like you always tried to get your parents recognition and approval, now you’re constantly striving to satisfy your boss.
If you’re able to make your boss happy, you’ll get that promotion, make more money, and be able to buy a bigger house, a luxury car, and shiny new baubles, just like your neighbor.
Will all those things really make you happy or is it just peer pressure?
In finding happiness, figure out what YOU really want.
What You Can Do Today:
Breathe and enjoy the simple things: like finding a good mate, forming solid relationships with friends, and cuddling up with a good book.
I’m pretty sure “the rat race” will be there tomorrow.
4. Information Overload Is Nearly Impossible to Conquer
With the Internet booming, any information you need is only a click or tap away.
The problem is, there’s TOO MUCH information to process.
According to an article penned by Josh James, Founder, CEO and Chairman of the Board of DOMO, a business intelligence tools and data visualization company, there’s so much information produced per minute, it’s impossible for us to process it all.
Take a look at their Data Never Sleeps infographic.
According to their updated 2016 numbers, Twitter alone produces almost 10,000 tweets per minute!
Don’t forget about all the other sources of data and information such as Google, YouTube, and Buzzfeed, just to name a few.
What about all the “journalists” posting information every minute of everyday on social media?
What’s true, false, and purely opinion?
And really, who has time to sift through it all and figure out what’s true and what’s misinformation?
With all this information at our fingertips, we should be able to accomplish anything, right? Wrong.
If you spent your entire life researching and learning everything about a given topic, you still might never become the expert you think you should be.
New information is coming out all the time about everything, and it’s impossible to keep up.
Looking back, if you dedicate your life to the pursuit of knowledge in one topic, to the exclusion of everything else, it may NOT be as fulfilling as you hoped.
Even with a good filter, all this mass information consumption pulls us in so many directions.
It’s difficult to figure out which way to go.
We’re left feeling inadequate and empty.
What You Can Do Today:
Learn what you need in order to have a well-rounded, full life.
Focusing on one thing to the detriment of everything else means you’ll miss out on something that may bring you happiness.
These are some of the guidelines I live by.
They were the only way I escaped this addictive need to feel and be perceived as special.
Once I started to focus on the important (yet average) things in life, I found my happy place.
I regret not learning these lessons sooner.
I wasted so much time being miserable, trying to please others, and chasing the elusive unicorn instead of just finding happiness with being average.
Finding Happiness with Your Ordinary Existence
After 30+ years of playing the game, I’m finally playing by my own rules.
I’m much happier because I’m focused on what I want, and enjoying my life instead of focusing on being the best, the most beautiful, the thinnest, or the smartest.
I hope by sharing my story, you’re able to do the same.