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“I wish I was built like Ryan Gosling.” “When am I going to get that job promotion?” “She looks so fit in her vacation pictures.” “If only I had those new shoes I saw at the store.” “I hate my calves.” “I’ll be happy when…”

Compare and despair

Compare and despair

You may find your day is interrupted by some of these thoughts.  Thoughts of comparison and focusing on negative qualities of oneself can invade your mind and bring down your day. It’s easy to get caught up in the world of “compare and despair”.

We are constantly bombarded by images of beauty, or the media’s definition of beauty, from magazines advertisements, flawless TV and movie stars, giant billboards, and the internet. It’s easy to get lost in a sea of perfect arms, abs, legs, teeth, and skin, but it’s not realistic to attain all of these things unless a professional modeling agency is paying your bills.  Instead of focusing on the physical qualities you don’t have, put your attention on your positive qualities. Listen and watch Massachusetts native Amy Poehler share her thoughts on why it’s important to focus on what you have:

Self-acceptance is all about knowing who you are. Take stock in your abilities and weaknesses together, accept them, and do the best with what you already have.  Self-acceptance does not mean a lack of ambition and it does not necessitate passivity. Instead it’s about building confidence around your abilities and being genuine with yourself and others.  Challenge yourself to be grateful for the things you have now and find happiness with your career, your relationships and your means as they stand today.  Not convinced you have anything to be grateful for? Think about your access to clean drinking water, the food you ate yesterday, the person you last shared a laugh with, or that you are capable of reading this sentence.



Many people face enormous pressure to meet expectations set by family and peers to achieve unrealistic or unhealthy goals. While it’s important to have goals to strive towards, it’s not advantageous for your mental wellness to dwell on what you do not have.  Bronnie Ware, an Australian author who worked with end-of-life patients, wrote a book on these patients and their life experiences. She found that one of their top five regrets was, “I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.”  Take a page out of Ware’s book and experience a life that is free of “compare and despair”.

Written By:

of the DPH Suicide Prevention Program

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