I have found myself in an extremely ironic situation this past month. One in which I am enjoying some of the greatest success of my career with the publishing of my book “One Good Life” and yet at the same time feeling some of the most overwhelming feelings of insecurity and inferiority I’ve ever experienced. After giving this a lot of thought I keeep coming back to one of my favorite quotes — Comparison is the thief of joy.
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I have definitely fallen into the “comparathon” trap as of late and while comparing myself to other people’s successes, I have robbed myself of much of the JOY I should be feeling! I’ve had to give myself a mental shake the past week and remind myself that I can still live MY best life without feeling jealousy or panic over the success of others.
The tendency to compare ourselves to others is as human as any other emotion and I’m sure I’m not alone in my experience. But it is a habit with numerous shortcomings:
- Comparisons are always unfair. We typically compare the worst of ourselves to the best we presume about others.
- Comparisons, by definition, require metrics. But many of the best things in life can’t ever be measured.
- You are too unique. Your gifts, talents, successes and contributions are entirely unique to you and your purpose in this world.
- You have nothing to gain, but much to lose. For example: your pride, your drive, and your passion.
- The “comparathon” is a race you CANNOT win. No matter the level of success we attain, there will always be something (or someone) else to compare to.
- Comparison focuses on the wrong person. You can only control one life — yours. Comparing ourselves to others, wastes precious energy focusing on other peoples’ lives rather than our own.
- Comparisons often result in resentment. Resentment towards others and towards ourselves.
So how can we break free from the “comparathon” trap?
I recently read an article by Joshua Becker – A Helpful Guide to Stop Comparing Yourself to Others that had some excellent suggestions which I am trying to embrace and challenge myself to follow:
Become more aware of your own successes.
You have a unique perspective, unique experiences, and unique gifts. You have the capacity to love, serve, and contribute. You have everything you need to accomplish good in your little section of the world.
Pursue the greater things in life.
Some of the greatest treasures in this world are hidden from sight: love, humility, empathy, selflessness, generosity. Among these higher pursuits, there is no measurement. Desire them above everything else.
Compete less. Appreciate more.
The first and most important step in overcoming the habit of competition is to routinely appreciate and compliment the contribution of others.
Gratitude, gratitude, gratitude.
Gratitude always forces us to recognize the good things we already have in our world.
Remind yourself nobody is perfect.
Remember that nobody is perfect and nobody is living a painless life. Everybody is attempting to overcome their own obstacles, whether you are close enough to know it or not.
Take a walk.
Next time you find yourself comparing yourself to others, get up and change your surroundings. Go for a walk—even if only to the other side of the room. Allow the change in your surroundings to prompt change in your thinking.
Find inspiration without comparison.
Comparing our lives with others is foolish. But finding inspiration and learning from others is entirely wise. Work hard to learn the difference. Humbly ask questions of the people you admire or read biographies as inspiration.
If you need to compare, compare with yourself.
We ought to strive to be the best possible versions of ourselves—not only for our own selves, but for the benefit and contribution we can offer to others. Learn to celebrate the little advancements you are making without comparing them to others.
With so many negative effects inherent in comparison, it is a shame we ever take part in it. But the struggle is real for most of us. Fortunately, it does not need to be. And the freedom found in comparing less is entirely worth the effort.
If you have ever noticed, it doesn’t matter how many people are on your side, cheering you on. If you can’t get on your own side, you never get past “go.” Let’s GO! :-)
Here are a few more of my other favorite quotes about the subject……..
Are you running a comparathon?