“Comparison is the thief of joy.” Theodore Roosevelt
Teddy’s got that right! It’s something we all do. We want to see how we stack up in our communities. Are we doing things right? Do we fit in?
We all want to be the best at something or at least competent and “normal”. And how do we find out if we are? Why, we look around and see how others are doing, how they look, how much they have or what and how are they doing it.
In all aspects of your life, comparison can lower any sense of pride and enjoyment. It really does rob you of your happiness and contentment.
Why does the simple act of comparing yourself to others make you feel so bad?
1. Often we compare our worst to someone else’s best — we aren’t comparing the same thing.
2. We often see only what that other person is putting out there — and yet we know all of our dark and scary sides. This is a totally unfair comparison. We are the hardest judge of ourselves because we know all our negative aspects.
3. You will never be at the top. Someone somewhere is better than you.
Because we have access to so much information today, we can see so many talented people achieving truly great things.
Needing to be the best or at the top is pointless. And this knowledge, if we dwell on that, can make us feel like giving up and not trying to be our own best self. Leading to a quiet despair.
4. We are too hard on ourselves. We compare our flaws that we have looked at under a microscope or a magnifying mirror, to someone’s air-brushed, salon primped best. Not a fair comparison.
5. Comparison can take you out of your enjoyment of the moment. For example, I love yoga and am fairly flexible, but I have a bad habit of comparing myself to others in my yoga classes.
This takes me out of the enjoyment of the moment, can possibly also make me feel bad or inferior, or conversely, superior.
None of this helps my yogic journey. Yoga is about oneness with body and breath, not about who is the most stretchy. It is not a competition. As the saying goes, it is a yoga practice, not a yoga perfect. My look around to see where others are at deprives me of personal satisfaction and inner peace.
Time to stop this useless and harmful practice!
How to stop comparing yourself to others:
1. Practice gratitude daily. This habit, more than any other, will shift the focus from what you don’t have or can’t do to what you do have and can do. So dig out that gratitude journal!
2. Remind yourself that the people you are comparing yourself to have areas of their life that aren’t perfect.
For example, if you compare your looks to a certain celebrity, but forget the fact that they have been divorced three times and have an addiction problem, you miss the fact that your happy relationships and clean living are far more important than that perfect nose (which they probably paid for!).
Again, you are comparing their best to your worst. Unfair to anyone.
3. Focus on your own future. Clean up your life. If you are truly unhappy with an area of your life, start changing it. Start small and be consistent. You will find satisfaction in this.
4. Only compare yourself to your own self. Realizing that no-one is perfect and that some things in life DON’T improve with age, (hello fine lines — but maybe that is an improvement), work on competing with yourself only.
Can you do a plank for 10 more seconds than you did 2 weeks ago? Awesome, that’s improvement! And you should be proud.
Comparing yourself to the world record holder of planking,( 8 hours! omg) takes away from your achievement and robs you of the satisfaction of your own progress.
5. Learn more about yourself. Journal, try new things, spend time alone and find out what you really want.
Social media, the ultimate in comparison sapping joy activity, can trick us into thinking our life needs to be a certain way. That we need to be a certain way, act a certain way, talk a certain way and certainly look a certain way. But is that what we REALLY want?
Taking the time to really explore our true wants and desires can help us reduce comparisons to others. We are all different, thus our wants and desires, and yes our lives, should be different.
6. Stop judging others. The more we judge, the more we feel judged by others.
You can bet that someone who feels people are very judgemental is exactly that, judgemental. Judging others makes us feel worse and truly says more about us than the poor people we are passing judgements upon.
We truly don’t know what is going on, really going on with someone. The more we tend to judge, the more we will be comparing ourselves to others and lessening our joy.
Working on stopping our comparing mind and opening up our hearts and mind to more gratitude will increase our capacity for joy and contentment.
Time to appreciate what we have!
“How much time he gains who does not look to see what his neighbour says or does or thinks, but only at what he does himself, to make it just and holy.”
― Marcus Aurelius, Meditations