There is a trap and it is called “comparitis.” We have all compared ourselves with others to see if we were good enough at some point in the past. And some of us still actively engage in comparison almost like a second habit.
Some honest measurement against others and aligning your life to make things a little better is not the problem.
Comparison gets to be a problem when it is counter productive and uninspiring.
Here are a few steps to recognize the problem and to troubleshoot for solutions.
1. Are you comparing yourself with others?
“Do not compare yourself with anybody. Compare yourself with yourself, for yourself and by yourself. We are all uniquely pottered and purposed by our creator!” ~ Ifeanyi Enoch Onuoha
Do you constantly compare yourself with others? Do you look at social media and other inputs and automatically measure your life with other successful people?
The first step in recognizing the trap of comparitis is to understand that you are engaging in the process of comparison. In some instances, our thinking minds are automatically comparing our inadequate lives with the oh-so perfect lives of everyone else.
2. Do you feel less than better after comparing?
“Comparison is the death of joy.” ― Mark Twain
Do you think that comparison is helping you or is it making you depressed? After comparing yourself with others, do you feel less than better? Do you feel like you are missing out on life while others are having all the fun, abundant finances and you name it?
Are you automatically making statements such as “must be nice” or “some people have all the luck?” It is almost like there is an internal meter that measures you against someone richer, happier and better? No matter what you do, you just do not measure up.
Do you experience feelings of envy, anger, self-doubt, anxiety, self-loathing, guilt and shame? If you do and you are internalizing all those feelings, it is time to take a break from comparison. Clearly, if comparing with others makes you feel anxious and guilty, it is not serving to empower you.
3. Decide and know that you are unique
“I am a rare species, not a stereotype.” ― Ivan E. Coyote
When you compare yourself with others, you are really comparing apples and oranges. Everyone is unique and has different circumstances. No two people have identical upbringings and same experiences. People have different habits and different lifestyles.
What is the point of comparison if people are entirely unique and different like snowflakes?
I watched in fascination as snow was gently falling down this morning.
Tiny little snowflakes, each quite unique floated around and landed on my sweater. I then suddenly realized that we are like snowflakes, beautiful inside, outside and utterly unique. When we compare ourselves with others, we do not completely realize our uniqueness.
There will always be messages from the media depicting perfection and other unattainable things. It is our responsibility to become aware of our uniqueness and not compare ourselves unfavorably with others.
Make a decision to not compare yourself with others. Instead, commit to becoming the greatest and most radiant version of yourself!
4. The grass is greener on the other side
“Don’t compare yourself with anyone in this world…if you do so, you are insulting yourself.” ― Bill Gates
This may be a clichéd phrase but there is great truth in this. Novelty always appears to be different and exciting to a bored mind. But when you dig deeper, the green grass on the other side has its own unique set of challenges and problems.
It is just that you fixate on one aspect of others that is appealing to you and compare yourself against that metric. It is no point comparing yourself to the Joneses because guess what, the Joneses might be broke. In the book, The Millionaire Next Door, Thomas Stanley and William Danko come to the startling conclusion that the millionaire next door is not who you think it is.
The people with the flashy cars and the jet setting lifestyle usually do not save enough to be very wealthy and those that really are wealthy have modest, frugal lifestyles. Go figure.
Do not get unsettled with the apparent greatness and wealth of others. Instead, look for the best in others and look for the best in your own life. Always remember that every person is human and have a unique set of challenges and problems.
5. Choosing happiness and contentment
“How much time he gains who does not look to see what his neighbor says or does or thinks, but only at what he does himself, to make it just and holy.” ― Marcus Aurelius, Meditations
Become happy now with yourself and your life and you will feel inspired to move towards your goals and dreams with great inspiration. Instead of comparing yourself with others and falling short, you can choose to be happy and feel abundant with your life in the current moment.
Happiness with your current life provides you the much-needed inspiration to take action confidently towards your dreams and goals. Compare that to a state of disempowered comparitis and you will see that it does not measure up. Yes, we are comparing the comparing attitude. Talk about getting one up on comparing! 🙂
Research by Positive Psychology Professor Sonja Lyubomirsky suggests that people who feel unhappy respond differently to people who feel happy when compared in a social context. You can download the paper here.
Unhappy people felt better when they were told that they received a poor evaluation but their peers received a worse one. When they received a favorable evaluation and were told that their peers received a better one, they felt worse.
Happy people on the other hand were less sensitive to unwelcome social comparisons. According to Dr. Lyubomirsky: “The strategy of paying heed to or ignoring social comparison information, it is worth reiterating, has implications of self-esteem and emotional life.”
6. Take massive action to move towards your dreams
Instead of comparing yourself with others, direct all energy and faculties towards taking action. Taking consistent and massive action towards your goals and dreams will make you feel great about yourself.
7. Instead of comparing, try uplifting
There is something wonderfully fulfilling about serving and uplifting others. Instead of comparison, focus your energy and attention on creating great value to others. This has the effect of making you forget all your problems and makes you feel like you have something valuable to contribute.
Uplifting others does not have to be financial or material. You can assist someone or truly compliment someone. You can choose to smile and brighten some other person’s day.
As soon as you shift the focus from comparing yourself to serving others, your energy changes. You will feel a rush of good feelings and it is in these little moments of life that you find great meaning and purpose.
Do you see a lot of comparitis happening? Do you see the opposite where people are cultivating happiness and seem resistant to comparison? Please comment below! I would love to hear from you!
Apples and Oranges Image Credit: TheBusyBrain via Compfight
Michelle Dobbins says
I love this post, Harish. Especially the last step about uplifting others. I try to focus daily on how I can be of service and I’ve noticed that when I’m not happy, I’ve usually stopped focusing on others and started trying to work on my own life. Somehow my own life flows better when I am being of service to others.
Thanks for an uplifting blog! 🙂
Harish Kumar says
Thanks for your comment and you are most welcome!
It is interesting how life can be more of a challenge when we are focused on what is going wrong and trying to make it better. I agree completely with you that the better approach is to be of service to others. Somehow life just falls in place when we are focused on others.
Raju Gunashekar Pran says
This is really great stuff Harish! 🙂
Thanks for sharing..
Harish Kumar says
You are most welcome!
Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment!