My page-a-day calendar based on the book The Happiness Project today focused on “Unconscious Overclaiming,” the tendency to overestimate our own skills, intelligence, or effort to those of other people. According to author Gretchen Rubin, this happens “because we’re far more aware of what we do than what other people do.”
While this may be an unconscious process, it’s worthwhile to try to be aware of when we do it, because the results can be catastrophic for work and personal relationships. We’re probably all guilty of saying (or thinking) things like:
- I’m always cleaning the house, and all my spouse does is watch television.
- I put in hours on this project, and no one even recognizes how much I’ve contributed.
You get the picture. Thinking such things is a sure way to bring on unhappiness. I’m not saying it’s not necessarily true. You may be the only worker in a pack of slouches, but it may also be possible
- that your spouse spends a great deal of time keeping up the yard, or
- that your colleague also spent hours working on the project, just not when you happened to see her.
Since we can’t climb inside another’s psyche, we’ll probably never be completely free from overclaiming. But, luckily, its symptoms are pretty easy to spot: Whenever we’re bemoaning the fact that we’re the only one who ever does any work, who knows anything,or who cares, then it’s time to make ourselves a little more aware of the contributions of the people around us.