Jason Hietbrink

The Addiction that’s Slowly Killing You & You Don’t Know You Have

The Addiction that’s Slowly Killing You & You Don’t Know You Have

As humans, we are hard wired to chase after are what we believe will ultimately bring us happiness, fulfillment, a sense of meaning and purpose in our lives. What some might call “the good life”.

And where we believe those things are found dramatically impacts what we pursue to find them. However, underneath the surface of it all is a deadly addiction that most of us aren’t even aware of.

Years ago, the University of Michigan conducted a study on happiness. Researchers stopped people on the street asking them this question, “Are you happy?” to which the vast majority of people would respond “yes”.

However, when the researchers asked this follow up question “are you actually happy or are you just pretending to be happy in order to mask the unhappiness inside?” so many people burst into tears they had to stop asking the question. 

After extensive research, Greg Easterbrook, in his book, The Progress Paradox concludes that by every standard of living, we live better today than any generation in the history of our planet. However, we are more unhappy, depressed, fearful, & anxious today than ever before. And in his book, he’s asking the question WHY?

Why do we have more at our fingertips today than any civilization and yet we are dissatisfied, anxious, depressed, and unhappy?  Several studies suggest part of the cause is because we define the quality of our lives and our self-worth based upon how we compare to others.

You may not know it, but based upon the research, the odds are high you are addicted to the drug of comparison.

Comparison is something we all wrestle with at some level. If we didn’t, the mountains of research supporting the negative effects of social media wouldn’t be there!

Most of what we see from the lives of others (both online and in person) are the highlight reels of their life, which cause us to place totally unrealistic expectations on ourselves. And because we rarely live up to those expectations, we start to believe we’re not good looking enough, smart enough, skinny enough, successful enough, creative enough, charismatic enough, fun enough, wealthy enough…etc.

We just…don’t…measure…up. And because we have this feeling of inadequacy, we are constantly trying to PROVE ourselves. That we’re enough.

Unhealthy comparison also causes us to compare the way our life currently is to the way we think our lives OUGHT to be and in doing so, we conclude our life as it is today is not enough. If we just had ______ or were able to do or be ______, THEN we would obtain the good life.


I have a profound hatred for jigsaw puzzles. In my opinion, jigsaw puzzles are frustration in a box. Every time I’ve tried to put a puzzle together, I get aggravated.

I know what the end result is supposed to look like because I can see it on the box, but no matter how hard I try; I can never get the grooves to line up right.

I think this is how most of us go through life. We view our lives like a giant jigsaw puzzle. We look at the box and see what our life “ought” to be (the “good life” we think we need to achieve) and we do our best to match up the pieces, but it seems like several of them are missing and no matter how hard we try, we can’t get it to look like it does on the box.

The picture on the box is the cumulation of all the standards we believe we must have in order to obtain “the good life” and we are constantly measuring ourselves and our life as it is today against that backdrop. And it’s glaringly apparent we’re not even close.

But that’s not all, simultaneously we’re sitting in a room with 100 other people from our circle of influence who are all putting their own puzzle pieces together. Parents from our kids’ sports teams, our neighbors, co-workers or colleagues, the people on your social media feeds…

We look around and it seems like everyone else is getting it. Everyone else has this figured out. Everybody else is winning; and not only are they winning but they’re making it look EASY.

And because we’re constantly comparing in an effort to prove we are enough and our life is enough, we feel an immense amount of pressure day after day to perform. Some days we feel great about ourselves other days feel terrible. It all depends upon whose puzzle we are choosing to compare ourselves to on that day.

It’s clear, chasing after “the good life” by means of comparison is NOT a winning strategy.


WHAT IF… the good life you’re fighting so hard to attain was not found OUT THERE, by striving to obtain something you didn’t have access to? What if you already had everything you needed in order to live a life filled with joy, contentment, and a sense of significance and worth? What if you didn’t have to compare for your worth or to prove anything about yourself.


WHAT IF…your self-worth and the good life you seek are not found in working for something you’re MISSING but in receiving what you’ve already been GIVEN?…

WHAT IF… rather than having to chase the good life, you could simply rest in the one that’s already been given to you? What if you can finally exhale because you remembered you already have all that you need.

Let that thought settle in for a moment.

You already have everything you need; it’s been given to you as a gift and not something you have to work for or earn.

All we need, for our worth and for our happiness, has already been given to us as a gift by our Creator. The “good life” therefore is not a matter of obtaining something from this world. It’s living content with what you’ve already been given. Because if you can’t be content with what you have, gaining more won’t fix the problem.

When we’re content, we’re at rest. When we’re at rest, we’re set free from having to prove to others that we matter. We’re free from hustling to compare well against others, we are set free to love them. And good things come when we’re motivated by a genuine love for others.

Can you imagine how it would feel to no longer have your self-worth on the line every day? To be free to fail, free to take risks, to admit when you’re struggling, to seek help, to be authentic?! To be free from this debilitating belief that you aren’t enough, that your life isn’t enough.

Here’s the good news. You can have that, today. Break the addiction to the comparison drug by choosing to embrace the fact that your self-worth and the good life you seek are not found in working FOR something you are MISSING but in RECEIVING what you have already been GIVEN!

Copyright © Jason Hietbrink 2023, All Rights Reserved

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