There is nothing that can take the wind out of your sails faster than comparing yourself to someone else or your life situation to someone else’s. One of the sayings I have on repeat in my head is, “comparison is the killer of joy.” I say it so often to myself because I find it to be true.
In almost every comparison situation, you are going to lose and that is because, all too often, we make unfair comparisons. If you have ever used the phrase “it’s not apples to apples,” that saying applies here. Often, when you compare yourself to another person, for example, you are not looking at a situation holistically. Instead, you are likely comparing yourself to a picture on Instagram or a 10-minute catch-up conversation at a bar. In business, people may make comparisons based on someone’s title or an accomplishment they were recognized for.
Based on only assumptions, the mind creates a story about how we are not good enough, our house not big enough, our friendship circle not wide enough, our vacations not extravagant enough. The list goes on and on.
What is missing from this snapshot comparison is values and goals.
For example, the extravagant vacation may have cost that friend a significant part of a savings account. You may instead keep committed to another one of your financial goals such as paying off your student loans or buying a second home. It is standard to have FOMO when you see friends having fun on social media, but you may have committed to spending more time with a spouse at home.
When you start to compare yourself to someone, take these three actions:
Immediately interrupt the thought with the phrase “comparison is the killer of joy.”
Think of three things you are grateful for. Whether big or small, gratitude helps to stop comparison in its tracks and lets you focus on yourself.
Move on to thoughts and actions that are productive and progressive. For example, “I’m going to sign up for that course I’ve been thinking about” or “I’m going to ask my manager if she knows of any opportunities for professional development” or “I’m trying my hardest, and that’s enough for me right now.”
A standard feeling that accompanies comparison is jealousy, so take some time to use that to your advantage. From my experience nothing good comes from comparing your life situation to someone else’s, so work hard to stay focused on your blessings and goals. This will keep you present, joyful, and most importantly, moving forward.