What makes me happy is progress. I don’t care what that progress is, as long as I am getting better at something, or someone else is getting happier, I’m happy. It says so right there in the big five. So it makes absolutely no sense to use other people as a mark of your own achievement. They’ll have their own goals, their own achievements and problems, and their own motivational tools. Chances are if they’re out in public, they’re hiding what’s bothering them and putting on their best ‘everything’s going great’ face, which is only going to make you feel worse. I’d be lying if I said I totally didn’t care what other people think of me, because it’s natural to want to be liked – evolutionarily it improves your chances of survival if you’re accepted into a group – but I have always inflated the importance of other people’s opinions in my own mind, as if they had some great insight into what was expected, or sociably acceptable, and it was tiresome trying to compete with an apparently insurmountable level of expectation. Interestingly what I discovered when I stopped putting so much effort into pleasing other people, and started to focus on just doing what I enjoyed, other people started to show more interest in what I was doing, and what I thought. I was always caring what other people would think. My only regret is that I hadn’t realised that it couldn’t matter less at an earlier age.

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