In recent weeks I have been drawn to think about the way people perceive themselves.
Ask someone how they are. Typical response - “not too bad”. Not many people will respond “ good thanks” or “excellent”.
In a world where social media, phones and ubiquitous connectivity mean that our lives are potentially always on show there seems to me to be an increasing tendency for people to look at what everyone else is up to and feel a sense of inadequacy.
“Is my job as good as theirs, my holiday wasn’t as cool as that, how come they travel so much while I’m stuck at home? “
It also strikes me that social media is more often than not simply a highlights reel of people’s lives. Their reality may be quite different.
Registered Clinical Psychologist Jacqui Maguire recently shared on National television, here in NZ, the results of a Stanford University study (27 January 2019) focused on the impact on users (2844 of them) of them having no Facebook access for a month.
The results might surprise you.
In 9 out of the 10 measures used, the respondents reported an increase in their overall subjective wellbeing.
The summary of the study is 114 pages long, but page 1 and page 55 capture the essence of it for me. If you are interested you can find it here.
So if being off Facebook makes us feel better about ourselves then I wonder what it is that we focus on, or do, when we are not on it?
If you’re not inclined to follow the link I gave you, the answers were : “Facebook deactivation:
(i) reduced online activity, including other social media, while increasing offline activities such as watching TV alone and socializing with family and friends;
(ii) reduced both factual news knowledge and political polarization;
(iii) increased subjective well-being; and
(iv) caused a large persistent reduction in Facebook use after the experiment”.
Plenty of food for thought in those findings isn’t there!
What Stanford’s study appears to be telling us is that perhaps if, instead of “looking over the fence” at what “everyone else” is doing, we focused on what we are doing, what we are enjoying, or what and who we do have in our lives then our own overall well being would improve.
As someone who works with different industries I continue to be impressed by the skill sets, and depth of knowledge that people have in their businesses or industries. To name a few that I have met:
- plant scientists who persevere enthusiastically for 12 years to create new grasses,
- school students who organised a fundraiser in a small rural community that raised over $8,000 for a charity,
- property valuers who regularly analyse complex property transactions and provide the outcome in succinct terms,
- farmers who grapple with biological systems, climatic events and ever increasing compliance and yet still turn out high quality traceable food
- principals who run schools with upwards of 50 staff and 600 pupils and do it year in year out,
- florists who create stunning arrangements every week with no blueprint to work from,
- people who take nature’s ingredients and consistently produce magnificent food and drink for others to enjoy,
- graphic designers who take concepts and turn them into reality,
- health care providers who literally save lives on a daily basis.
All these people are SO good at what they do - yet most of them will tell you “ oh, I’m just.......” and downplay it.
You are good at what you do. Embrace it. Not in an arrogant way. Simply be quietly confident.
Many of us are conditioned to focus on what we are not good at. Yes - there’s always room for improvement but it is also vital that from time to time we sit back and remind ourselves of just how capable we are.
Do you appreciate how good you are?