“How are you doing?” Simple question, right? There are at least two ways to answer. The first is to think of the ways that you’re blessed and highlight some of them in your response. The second is to compare yourself to others.
We compare ourselves to others all the time. We compare ourselves to friends on social media, colleagues at the office, and even strangers at the gym. We rate our appearance, possessions, performance, and even our problems. In doing so, we rarely consider whether the person we’re comparing to received a head start, whether genetics played a role, or whether we’re even comparing apples to apples. The belief is, if you’re doing better than others, that’s good, and if you’re doing worse, that’s bad.
Is your satisfaction based on what you have or on what you don’t have?
Why You Should Stop Comparing Yourself to Others
Comparing yourself to others can leave you with several possible conclusions. From a positive perspective, benchmarking yourself against others encourages you to strive to become better. You might think, “If they can do it, so can I.” From a negative viewpoint, you might become so obsessed with how you measure up that you try to keep up with the Joneses at any cost. “If they have it, I want it too,” you think. In addition, you might adopt a pessimistic and unrealistic view of the situation. “Life is unfair. Everyone has it better and easier than me,” you may think. This could make you angry or jealous and cause you to stop trying.
In most cases, it is extremely counterproductive to compare yourself to others. As Theodore Roosevelt said, “Comparison is the thief of joy.” Here are six reasons why:
Perfection is an illusion. We’re often blind to the real challenges that people face. Although you might think someone doesn’t have a care in the world, they might be like a duck — calm on the surface but paddling like mad under the water.
Comparisons are hardly ever fair. It’s difficult to judge a running race if people begin at different starting lines. In fact, most of those boasting of hitting a home run were actually born on third base.
Comparison can turn into judgment. It is very easy for a well-intentioned comparison to turn into harsh judgment.
Beauty is subjective. Some things can’t be quantified; beauty is in the eye of the beholder.
Some things can’t be changed. You might want to be younger — good luck with that.
Comparison can turn friends into adversaries. Some things start out as a friendly competition, but end up with hurt feelings.
Is the Grass Really Greener?
In school, it was common for a teacher to pass out a test and say, “Keep your eyes on your own paper.” There are two takeaways from that remark. First, cheating doesn’t pay. Second, it doesn’t matter how the person next to you answers the questions — think for yourself and come up with your own answers.
You were born with a unique set of fingerprints. In order to realize your true potential, it’s important to be bold, live your own life, and accept responsibility for the choices that you make. According to Zen Shin, “A flower does not think of competing with the flower next to it. It just blooms.”
In addition, keeping up with the Joneses is like chasing a rainbow. While it might look beautiful from a distance, it will always be beyond your grasp. By trying to keep up with the Joneses, we place artificial demands on ourselves that undermine our happiness. These demands force us to work harder and harder to cross a finish line that keeps moving.
If you appreciate what you have, you’ll never want for more. So next time you’re tempted to compare yourself to others, don’t waste your time. If the grass is greener on the other side of the fence, chances are it’s getting better care.
Do You Compare Yourself to Others?
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