Comparison is The Thief of Joy

 

Comparison. (noun) The act of comparing two or more people or things.

Want to know how to make yourself instantly unhappy? Compare yourself with others. 

Theodore Roosevelt famously said:

Comparison is the thief of joy

And his wisdom will live forever. Maybe you have everything you ever wanted. Beautiful family, health, a job you’re passionate about, loyal friends always ready to help, nice things you’ve always wanted, etc. Maybe you have enough. But then you see your high school friend, or coworker, or someone else who has more than you. And you instantly think: “But we were alike in high school. How does he have more than me?” And with this one thought your whole emotional state is disrupted. You immediately feel less valuable, miserable, and unhappy. 

We can’t help but compare ourselves with others. It is something deep inside us that provokes the thoughts of comparison. The problem is that we don’t stop. There is no end to the comparison. And even if we have everything, we will always find someone better looking, more intelligent, and more affluent than us. When you compare yourself with successful people your age, you can’t help but feel unhappy and incompetent. “How does he have more than me?”, “If only I had this, I would be happy.” In today’s world, social media seems to be full of people enjoying life more than us. They travel more, they drive nicer cars, live in bigger houses…

 

 

Science has found that around 12% of daily thoughts involve some kind of comparison.  Comparison can be detrimental to our health and our happiness, but we still do it unconsciously. New research from Deri and Davidai reveals that when we compare, we always compare with the best. When we compare how fit we are, we compare to the fittest person we know. Or to the best cook when evaluating our cooking skills. But then, with whom does Jeff Bezos compare? When you’re the richest person in the world, with whom do you compare yourself then?

Your Grass is Greener Than Mine

In our mind, the old adage that grass is always greener next door comes true. But is it really? Do you know how other people live? Or how do they get what they have? No. You don’t. Most times we are just assuming. Blaming our luck for our misfortune. We just assume that grass is greener. But maybe others use chemicals to dye their grass. And then, at some point, it turns brown and dies. Its natural beauty destroyed by needless comparison. We always see only what others want us to see. Stop comparing and take care of your grass. It is already beautiful as it is.

9 Simple Ways to Stop Comparing Yourself to Others

1. Water Your Own Grass

When we focus on other people, we lose time that we could otherwise spend on ourselves. You’re beautiful, you’re unique, and you’re smart just the way you are. Invest in yourself and nurture your own grass.

2. Stop Yourself

Once you realize you are starting to compare yourself – pause, breathe, and stop. Acknowledge the thought and gently change the focus. Deep inside, you know it’s pointless. So stop doing it.

3. Focus on Your Strengths

We all possess certain strengths and weaknesses. When you catch yourself comparing, focus on your strengths. Be proud of them, feel good about them, and use them to your advantage. You definitely have something that the person you’re comparing to doesn’t.

4. Keep A Record of Achievements

When we compare ourselves to others, we focus on their strengths and achievements and neglect our own. Every time you do something you’re proud of, take a mental note, picture, or write about it. You will soon have a folder full of accomplishments you have made over time. From time to time, or when you feel down, look at everything you’ve achieved and boost your self-confidence.

5. Do A Social Media Detox

Choose one day a week and completely unplug yourself. Go to nature, take a bath, read a good book, treat yourself to a cake. Your phone and all the social media you use will be there when you return. And you won’t miss anything. Trust me.

6. Practice Gratitude

Be grateful for what you have and count your blessings. You’ll end up having more. You can be grateful for a beautiful family, amazing health, wonderful friends, a peaceful country, etc. There are countless things you can be grateful for, so shift your focus from what you don’t have, to what you do have. If you focus only on what others have, you’ll never have enough.

7. Find Your Own Enough

Enough is different for different people. No matter how many material possessions you pile up, how many houses you own, or how many trips you take, you’ll never be satisfied if you don’t find your own enough.

8. Repeat to Yourself Whenever Necessary: “Money Doesn’t Buy Happiness, and Never Will”

It’s well known that money doesn’t buy happiness. But it buys all the things we want, directly correlating it to happiness. However, happiness derived from material possessions is short-lived. Money and things can provide a temporary boost of joy, yet they cannot provide lasting happiness.

9. Remember You Are Unique

Maybe your mom told you this or your friend, or you read it somewhere, but it is the truth. You’re special, unique, and beautiful. No one in the entire universe is exactly like you. It’s pointless to compare apples to oranges, so why then do we all compare ourselves with other people. We’re all different and we move at a different pace with a different purpose. Your gifts, talents, and contributions add value that is entirely unique to you and your purpose in this world. No one can ever compare them to anyone else’s.

Our Life is A Journey

Life is not a competition. It’s a journey. That journey has nothing to do with how well others are doing, or what they have, and we don’t. When we’re comparing with others, we are focusing on one exact point where the other person is, and we want to get there ASAP. However, we’ll never be able to go to the exact same point, only a similar one, but by then many things will change, and we may end unhappy.

Instead, appreciate the path you’ve chosen for yourself and walk peacefully on it. Later you can look back and see not only how far you’ve come, but also how much fun you had along the way.

The Only Person You Should Compare Yourself To…

The only person you should compare yourself to is the person you were yesterday. Maybe this sounds a little contradictory with everything said above, but if we really want to improve, and be better versions of ourselves, we need to have some benchmark. And there is no better way than comparing ourselves with ourselves. What can I improve today that I failed yesterday?

Want to get in better shape? I must train even harder than before. Want to be a better cook? Maybe I should read more about cooking, or sharpen my knives, or buy fresher ingredients. If you think this is not enough, then take cooking lessons or find a mentor to help you improve. There are millions of possibilities to improve ourselves every single day. And we are the only people who can do it. Therefore, commit to growing just 1% day by day. After 365 days you will grow 365%, and that then is a huge improvement.

A flower does not think of competing with the flower next to it. It just blooms.

Zen Shin

Be unique. 

Be memorable.

Be confident. 

Be proud.

Stop comparing and start living.

 

Cheers!

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5 Responses

  1. I find that not all comparison has been bad for me. I LOVE comparing myself to others to get to a state of minimalism I would like to be. It has only been helpful.

  2. I’m not a very competitive person by nature so I don’t typically engage in unhealthy comparison but it does serve as one intentional metric when evaluating (or reevaluating) personal goals. Sometimes I set expectations on myself higher than they should be so in that regard comparison can help ground me and help me keep it realistic.
    Rather than stop all comparison consciously use it as a tool to identify personal strengths and weaknesses but not allow it to run your show.

  3. I think we are hardwired to compare. But maybe the key is confidence in knowing whats best for you and sorta staying in your lane. For ex if you are a single parent then your daily routines wont look the same for you vs a household with two parents. If you are taking care of an aging parent then you might not have time for sewing or gardening or whatever suzie-down-the-street does after dinner. If you have a smaller car than all the other neighbors them maybe you cant buy out costco everything weekend.
    Another real important one is to remember that whatever you see in other people is probably not really accurate so theres no way to even compare correctly. They may have a house fulla nice stuff but no money in the bank. Or maybe they have dates every weekend but are talking about divorce. Esp people on youtube pinterest, instagram, etc. Its nice to get inspiration but dont compare their carefully posed video of their kids fingerpainting while your toddler is playing in the litter box. Because just before that video was made that youtube kid might have been eating a booger and beating up his sister.
    Again i do think some of this will happen naturally. Try to think it through quickly and get to the part where you are different person in a different life than whatever you are comparing to.
    Also do keep eyes peeled for universal habits and practices that are sensible for everyone. Can you use that trick? Can you adapt it to make beeter sense for you?
    Biggest thing maybe is if you are gonna compare….compare where you are with where you were. Are you improving?
    I think gratitude helps too. Knowing what you have and being glad for it.

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