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Mental health awareness is a critical and important thing for everyone, especially men, to have. It’s one of those things that has come to the mainstream in recent years, with plenty of celebrities and athletes coming to the forefront of the movement in order to show that everyone, even those who are rich and famous, have problems they face.

As much as more men have opened up recently regarding mental health awareness, it’s still something that some refuse to subject themselves to. For every Kevin Love who talks about his depression or anxiety, there’s a Joe Schmo who isn’t yet ready to make himself vulnerable or admit his insecurities. Due to that, we still see depression and suicide rates where they are today — but we need to change that sooner rather than later.

One of the many things that can help men break from some of the mental health issues is the constant comparisons to others. In the world of social media, where everyone seems to be posting their “best life” online for thousands or even millions to see, like, comment or share, men are finding it difficult to stay happy within themselves, believing that some of the things seen on social media and other places should be the norm. We must break that mindset.

Since we know how important practicing positivity is in relation to mental health issues, we’re telling you the reasons why (and how) you can stop the comparisons to others and become happier and more appreciative for what you have. Things aren’t always perfect — nor will they be — so accept each day and help change your outlook on your own life. Here’s how to do it.

Why are comparisons killing your mental health?

As you all probably know, comparing yourself to others is natural, but it’s become such an issue that it can leave you more depressed than inspired. That needs to stop, and it’s going to take some serious effort on your part to do so.

To have strong mental health means seeing something, accepting it for what it is, feeling happy for the other person but practicing gratitude for what you have in your own life. For instance, you may see a friend of yours living the entrepreneur life and sailing around the world or sightseeing in various countries. Rather than feel down about your own life and occupation, feel proud of him for his accomplishments, find one or two things that you appreciate with your career and remind yourself of something that your skilled at that he may not be.

So, how are comparisons killing your mental health? Easy, you’re beginning to fall into the trap of “whoa is me,” where you’re feeling either under-appreciated and/or like a failure for not living someone else’s dream. It’s a basic saying, but live for you, not for someone else, and take pride in everything you do no matter what it is.

How can self-appreciation improve my mental health?

If you’ve ever talked to your dad, grandpa, family friend or mentor and they seem as happy as can be, it’s because they’ve accepted who they’ve become and stopped living for other people. In the most blatant term, they’ve stopped giving a f*ck. And if you ask those guys how they got there, they’ll probably give you a simple answer that frustrates you because your mental health isn’t quite as positive — but it can be.

Once you learn to appreciate yourself and live your life day-to-day, you’ll fall from the trap of comparisons, understanding that we all have our own strengths, weaknesses and skills, and, sometimes, other people just catch a lucky break earlier than you. That doesn’t mean you should be discouraged or become jealous, it means you should take happiness in what you do have, understand how much worse it could be, and control what you can to improve in the areas you most want to.

For example, if you feel like you’re in a dead end job and aren’t making what your friends are, don’t fake it till you make it, overspending to try to keep up with them. Instead, find a way to educate yourself in areas that you’re most interested in that can improve your situation, and, before you know it, all that effort will be rewarded. This is just one way in which self-appreciation can help improve your mental health.

What are some common comparisons men are making that are hurting their mental health?

The most common comparisons that men seem to make often relate to physical appearances, career success and wealth, but there are thousands, if not millions more. That’s right, we all stir up these strange circumstances or narratives in our own minds that make us think someone is better than us because of how they present themselves. But remember that things aren’t always what they appear to be.

No matter how you define success, even those who have reached that pinnacle in your mind still have problems and insecurities. Once you realize this, and understand that nobody’s life is ideal, your mental health will improve and you’ll stop comparing yourself to others.

It’s easy to sit here and simple say “be confident,” but that’s the easy way out, because being confident takes more than just flipping a switch. It takes practice, patience and self-appreciation that, with a little work and reflection, you’ll understand that you’re more successful today than you were yesterday, and you’ll be even better tomorrow than you are today.

What steps can I take in my mental health to stop comparing myself to others?

Outside of some of the tips we’ve already mentioned, to improve your mental health will require these simple steps: Awareness, Acceptance, Action.

When it comes to awareness, become aware that your life is your own, and that you need not try to outdo anyone else. Most of us are competitive by nature, but it shouldn’t drive us to jealousy or unhappiness, it should be channeled to inspire and motivate.

In terms of acceptance, it’s critical to accept who you currently are and stay focused on who you want to become. You shouldn’t just treat everyday as an opportunity to become better, but you should also use it as an opportunity to accept the things that make you happy each day. For all those Instagram pictures of guys on boats or airplanes, there’s plenty of unhappiness and stress, too, so remember that there’s nothing that can make you happy other than you.

Finally, while practicing action, you need to put all these thoughts in motion, practicing what you’re preaching every single day. A prime example of this might be exercising. If you compare yourself to someone who has svelt and toned, but all you do is eat junk food and sit on the couch, you’re not doing any action to better yourself. However, once you become aware you have a problem, accept that you need to put in the work to make changes and then take the requisite action to do so, you’ll see results.

Life is difficult enough without trying to compare and compete with someone else. So better your mental health by starting to take more control with your thoughts and your actions will follow.

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