1. Remember that 10 years ago, most people could count their number of friends on their two hands.
Like real, solid, dependable friends. Friends that come over at midnight on a Tuesday if you just went through a break-up. Friends that skip the small talk and jump right into honest conversations with you. Sure, people also had a lot of acquaintances 10 years ago, but they weren’t as concerned with that. They’d run into their aquaintences when they ran into them, and other than that, they didn’t think about them much. Today, we feel the need to have incredible social lives with dozens of friends. We have to be doing something every night with a different group of people. But that’s only because we’ve been conditioned to think we’re weird if we don’t have a ton of friends. What we have to remember is that if you’re lucky enough to be able to name a few loyal and dedicated friends on one or two hands, you’re going to be just fine.
2. You don’t have to give up social media. Just try to align the real version of you closer to the online version.
Part of the reason that social media makes us depressed is that we’re creating an ideal version of ourselves that makes the real us feel like we aren’t good enough. We don’t look that perfect all the time and we aren’t always that witty and it’s impossible to feel that #blessed every second of your life. You don’t have to do anything drastic to try to match up the online you to the real you. Just try to be more honest. Post a picture of you that isn’t stunning; it can be surprisingly freeing. Or tweet something that isn’t surprisingly funny, it’s just honest. The online version of you and the real version of you are always going to be different, that’s just the fact. But the more genuine you try to be, the more accepting of yourself you will feel.
3. Concentrate on the real things in your life. Because making your life look perfect online is temporarily enjoyable, but the high wears off quickly.
After that, you’re just left with a manufactured version of your life, but no actual life. If you want the real you to be as happy as the online you, then you have to put time and effort into real things in your life. That means your relationships, your friendships, your job, your hobbies, your education, eating well. But it also involves the simplest things, like admiring your view, going for walks, inhaling fresh air, reading a good book. It’s okay to get a little distracted by the online you, because that’s what social media is supposed to be: a fun distraction. But the end of the day, you just have to remember that that’s all it is. It’s all online and none of it’s real.
4. Remind yourself that happiness does not come from analyzing how good your life is in comparison to others.
Trying to compare your life to those of others is like running on a treadmill: you can run for as long as you want, but you’re never going to get anywhere. You cannot figure out how happy you are or how good your life is compared to that of someone you knew in high school or college. They are living and writing a completely different story than you. To find happiness, you have to search internally. It’s a state of mind that comes from being grateful and awake and curious and kind and open. Basically, the lesson here is: worry less about the lives of the people around you, and don’t exercise on treadmills because they’re boring.
5. If you do compare your life to that of someone else’s life online, it means you’re comparing the real you to the perceived ideal of them.
You’re not comparing your real life to someone else’s real life. You’re looking at their carefully edited, filtered, manufactured life. They’re putting the best version of themselves online. The one that looks the best and has the most success and the best friends and the greatest happiness. So basically, what you’re doing is making yourself unnecessarily miserable. Again, social media is a fun distraction. But you have to take it with a grain of salt. You have to remember that everyone else is working just as hard as you are to make it look like they have their shit together. In reality, nobody has their shit together. Meryl Streep excluded.
6. Remember that some of the most special and enjoyable moments we experience usually don’t get photographed.
Whether you’re sitting on the couch and goofing off with your roommates, or hanging out at home with your family, or cooking a meal with your significant other, these usually don’t strike you as the opportune moments for Instagramming a photo. We forget how happy these things make us because we’re more concerned with the parties and sports games and things that can be edited and filtered and uploaded and captioned. You just have to remind yourself that sometimes, the things that make you the happiest are the things that can’t be “liked” by other people.
7. Try going out one night with no intention of documenting it.
You may discover that the usual pressure you feel to get a great photo and to look your best and to have your phone out all night is gone. It’s a weight off your shoulders. You can actually breathe and enjoy the moment you’re in, instead of wondering when the best moment is going to appear for you to snap a photo.
8. Don’t forget that no one looks as good in real life as they do online. And sometimes, that’s more fun.
The images you post of yourself online are probably the most attractive and flattering images of yourself that you have taken. Remember that your friends are all doing the same thing. None of us actually look like Beyonce. Maybe the online version of you is put-together and poised and gorgeous and flawless. But the real-life version of you can touch your face without ruining your makeup. The real-life version of you can breathe in the outfit you’re wearing. The real-life version of you didn’t have to spend two hours getting ready. Yes, it’s fun to try and look good and to share that captured image that with others. But it’s so much more relaxing to feel clean and light and comfortable and actually like yourself.
9. Take it easy on yourself. You don’t have to feel guilty about enjoying social media.
It makes sense that we are all addicted to our online profiles. They validate us. We get likes and views and comments and actual, tangible things we can read and see that tell us other people are paying attention to us. Chances are that if you are active on social networks right now, you’re not going to have much success by trying to just cut yourself off completely. Instead, you just have to be aware of exactly what these profiles do and how they make you feel. Enjoy them, but don’t revolve your life and your happiness and your way of thinking around them.
10. Surround yourself with people who add quality to your life, not people who make your life seem more glamorous.
When things get tough and challenging and not fun, those glamorous friends tend to quietly fade off into the distance. The real friends and family and partners are the ones who stick by you when things suck. Maybe you might feel as if your online life doesn’t seem as cool or crazy or impressive, but at the end of the day, what matters is that you surround yourself with people who are loyal to you, people who stick by you, and people who remind you that the real pleasures in life come from genuine relationships with people that care about you.