A while ago I was up several nights in a row with my baby who was having terrible stomach pain. It was so awful! She was just miserable and there was nothing I could do to help her no matter what I tried. Finally one night as I was trying to console her and figure out what could be causing this pain, it dawned on me- the chocolate milk!!!!! I had recently tried giving her chocolate milk (since she wouldn’t drink regular milk) and it was making her really sick.
As I sat there rocking her, I thought about how much she loved drinking chocolate milk in the moment and how if I were to give it to her the following day, she would be thrilled to drink it, not knowing that it was the cause of her tummy aches each night.
I also thought of another parallel. How often do we have an emptiness or feel stressed or somewhat unhappy? It happens, right? Please tell me I’m not the only one! 🙂 Sometimes we might find ourselves comparing our life, body, possessions, or talents to someone else and it just plain does not feel good.
What’s funny is that whether we want to admit it or not, a lot of that comparing and emptiness can come when we spend too much time following or watching other people’s portrayed lives on social media. It may not happen right away but eventually we may find ourselves focused on trivial things, not feeling grateful or happy. Sometimes we just feel a little empty inside. I believe that it can often happen because we’re spending too much time focusing on other people and not living our lives.
Do you know what’s so ironic about that? It’s just like my baby with the chocolate milk. We don’t exactly realize that social media is making us compare ourselves or feel unhappy and we keep going back for more! In fact, when we’re feeling bored, unhappy or stressed, social media is often the first thing we turn to in order to “zone out”! Next time you do this, I want you to ask yourself if it’s possible that social media is giving you a spiritual or emotional stomach ache.
Is it truly filling you up and bringing you joy? Or is it making you feel bad about yourself and wishing somehow your life were different? I’m not saying it’s all bad. I know there is a lot of goodness and inspiration out there, we just have to pay attention.
If you TRULY want to be happy, let me suggest a few things! Friend- I need this advice just as much as you do. The reason I can share all of this is because it’s what I have to tell myself all the time! So if you identify with any of this, know that you’re in good company (I mean, I am good company if I do say so myself!).
Trim it down. Go through the list of who you follow on social media. If the feed doesn’t fill you with joy and encouragement and inspiration, unfollow!! You don’t need to know what celebrities are up to or what everyone in your school is doing that weekend. You really don’t. You might think it sounds REALLY hard to do this, but just remember, you’re going to be saving yourself from feeling sick.
Focus on giving, not just consuming. Social media can be largely about consuming without any real action on our part. The number one reason I started my hand lettering Instagram was because I knew there was so much negative in the world and I wanted to be a light to share positivity and try to inspire people to focus on what really matters and what would really bring them joy.
Live outside of the screen. I know you probably hear this from adults all the time and it can be annoying. If you don’t want to, go ahead and stick with your regular routine. BUT if you want to be happier than you currently are and don’t want any “chocolate milk stomach aches” then I suggest thinking about what you want to fill your life with. Make a list of what really fills your cup- maybe you love art or sports, surprising friends with a thoughtful gift, reading, writing, doing hair, organizing, babysitting, arranging flowers, playing an instrument- you name it! Make sure you’re scheduling your days to include the things you love!
Give yourself some ground rules. Maybe your parent(s) already try to give you some rules about phone use or social media use. Maybe you’re even frustrated about that. What I’m going to say is to think about what really truly brings you joy DEEP down and fill your life with that. If you don’t plan your time and set some rules about how much time you spend on social media, we all know that you can waste hours and hours without even realizing it.
Think long-term. When you look back on your life in 5 years, 10 years, 20 years, what do you want to remember? What do you want to tell your kids about your interests, your hobbies and talents? LIVE A LIFE YOU LOVE! And not just so that you can post about it! So that you can feel grounded and loved and happy.
Like I said, I need this as much as you do and I feel excited and recommitted about making sure that I’m not filling my life with things that are making me “sick” without even realizing what those things are.
I know God loves you. I know He has a plan for your life! He has amazing things in store for you and will bless you to know how you can find true joy in His service. I promise that following Him and His plan is the only way to truly find it.
Love to you!
-Lisa (Hand Lettered Design)
Lisa is a wife and Mom of three littles, life-long Californian now living in Gilbert, Arizona where she loves living by family and being a part of an incredible creative community.
She loves visiting art museums, holding sleeping babies, traveling anywhere she can (especially the beach), dark chocolate, doing art with her kids, delicious food and real conversations about real life. When you meet Lisa, she will likely make you feel like her best friend (& like a million bucks). Connect with Lisa on her blog or Instagram.