“The greatest thing in the world is to know how to belong to oneself.”
Michel de Montaigne
Social comparison is pretty much inevitable – it’s also a big part of the way we determine our own level of happiness. Do I make enough money? Should I loose some weight? Do I need a bigger flat? It’s almost impossible to make those assessments objectively.
Instead, we turn to comparison. It’s easy to think the world is judging you, and hard to see how we are creating that feeling. Is it even possible to compare two people? We are just too complex to be reduced to simple comparisons.
Comparison can be motivating, but it can also make you miserable. It’s easy to feel like we’re constantly missing something – unhappy, insecure, drained – constantly creating stories about why we’re not good enough.
When we focus on other, we lose control – we change perspective, question our own decisions, we nurture the neighbor’s garden. We compare our bad moments to others’ best moments. When we constantly compare, we focus on other peoples’ lives, rather than our own.
Here are some thoughts that help me stop the vicious cycle of comparison.
- Comparison is a natural tendency. Even monkeys judge what they’ve got by taking a peek at what the monkey next door is getting.
- Judging someone else only makes us dislike them – and ourselves – more.
- We tend to compare based on idealised public images – heavily filtered, distorted pieces of reality.
- There is an infinite number of categories upon which we can compare and an infinite number of people to compare ourselves to.
- We’re all unique – our own skillset and talents can never be properly compared to anyone else.
- There will always be someone who’s richer, smarter, more attractive. Some people are simply born with more advantages.
- Success and busyness are overrated. Let’s be happy with less.
- By focusing on the negatives, we’re unable to appreciate the good things we already have.
- Comparison often comes from low self-esteem and lack of belief in the integrity of our own life path.
- Instead of finding ways that we don’t measure up, let’s celebrate the things about ourselves and others that make us unique.