Thankful: I swear this is the shortest way to an unhappy life and you gotta stop doing it

Remember how I said in the previous lesson that we have several inbuilt obstacles on our road to gratitude?

Well, today I wanna dig into comparison.

Comparison is probably something that’s very intrinsic to being human.

Neil Gaiman, in his wonderful lecture ‘Why our future depends on libraries, reading and daydreaming’, talked about how being discontent is an amazing thing.

Because discontent people have seen that things could be different, and will work tirelessly to bring change about.

That’s how we – as societies, as people, as communities – get better.

But discontent and comparison are two very different beasts.

In terms of social comparison, modern psychology differentiates between two kinds of comparison.

Upward comparison is when you compare yourself to others who are (or seem to be) better off than you are.

And downward comparison is when you compare yourself to people who are worse off than you are.

In our modern, digital-first world, where our faces are glued to constantly updating streams, we tend to veer towards upward comparison.

Seeing how everyone else is so much better off than we are.

When was the last time you saw someone in the media who was old, overweight, unsuccessful or just plain old normal?

Nah, we’re bombarded by a carefully curated stream of success stories, ripped bods, tiny waists, perfect complexions and fluorescently gleaming teeth intended to make us feel how hopelessly inferior we truly are.

It’s a billion-dollar industry and self-sufficient cycle, y’know.

“Look how inferior you are, here buy all these products/services to up your game, then buy all these other products/services to maintain that inhuman level of perfection. Oh, you’re feeling the pressure? Feeling a bit down, hold on we have more things for you to buy that’ll fix that right up! Still not happy? Here, we’ve got a bunch more stuff for you to spend your money on!”

You know exactly what I’m talking about.

Because we’re all trained to be the perfect consumers who spend our lives buying things we don’t need, with money we don’t have, to impress people we don’t like.

Is there space for gratitude in a world like that? No.

Though, you’ll see everyone and their dog proclaiming to be #blessed which, lemme tell ya, ain’t nowhere near the same as practising genuine gratitude.

And what do us plain Janes have to be thankful for, anyway? Do we live on yachts? Drink champagne for breakfast? Grace the cover of Vogue? Drive our Ferraris to dinners at Michelin star restaurants?

When you focus on what you don’t have, you’ll fail to appreciate what you do have.

And here’s where the importance of words and wording really starts to show.

In one study, group A was asked to finish the sentence “I wish I was…”, and group B the sentence “I’m glad I’m not…”. And group B was significantly more satisfied than before, as compared to group A.

I want you to really start paying attention. To the words you use. To the people and situations, you compare yourself to – especially when you find yourself lacking.

And I want you to really start scrutinising your evaluation. Is comparison in any given situation serving you? Is it making you happier? Do you really care to have or be what you think you’re not?

I also want you to start curating your words intentionally.

Switch out words that strip you of your personal power – such as ‘can’t’ – and replace them with words that put the ball back in your court – like ‘won’t’.

Because everything begins with a word.

Words are the creator.

Of our universe, our lives and our reality. Without words, thought can never become reality.

Words consist of vibration and sound, and it’s these vibrations that create the very reality that surrounds us.

Words are a powerful asset that provides bold affirmation of your innermost thoughts, a confirmation of how you see others, your life and yourself.

Words determine how you perceive things.

And just a few words can change that perception profoundly. And only by choosing your words carefully can you create your best reality.

And I believe that the words you choose should be both meaningful and aesthetically pleasing because when they look good, they draw your eye often.

And when they draw your eye often, they help to manifest the idea they represent in your mind more firmly.

The words on your t-shirts help you affirm your identity, ideas and beliefs to others – so, choose wisely lest you be seen as less than you are!

The power of words is why I love lettering so much.

In lettering, the word nerd in me gets together with the artist in me, and crafts a message that becomes more powerful because it’s also visually pleasing.

I mean, wouldn’t you love to see words like this on your wall every day?

Hear it every day, even if you’re saying it to yourself? You can find these – and more – in my shop.

I know I love me a good affirmation, or great quote, to put a smile on my face!

My shop’s full of motivational art to support the well-being and confidence of highly sensitive introverts and empaths because I believe that you should feel alive by design, not by luck.

And today I want you to show yourself some love!

Because you’re beautiful as you are.

You 👏are 👏enough.👏

And I genuinely mean it; ever since happiness heard your name, it has been running through the streets trying to find you.


  • What are 3 things you’re good at?
  • Name one thing that your body does for you that you’re grateful for.
  • List 3 ways in which you can speak to yourself in a kinder way.