zenhabits : breathe

Life’s Enough: Stop Comparing Yourself to Others

“Enjoy your own life without comparing it with that of another.” - Marquis de Condorcet

If you took the strengths of others, and compared them to your weaknesses, how do you think you’d size up? And do you think this would make you feel good?

The funny thing is, this is what most of us do at one time or another — and some of us do pretty often.

It’s a sure-fire recipe for a drop in self-confidence and for unhappiness. It’s also not that useful.

Let’s say I take a look at someone who creates amazing artwork and really top-notch podcasts on their website … and I look at my art and video skills, and realize that I don’t come close to measuring up. In fact, I look pretty pitiful (I’m a lousy drawer and don’t know anything about video).

But wait a minute: it’s not a fair comparison. Just because I don’t measure up doesn’t mean I should get out of the blogging business, or that I should get depressed or jealous or resentful. Instead, if I looked at my strengths — writing useful and honest posts — I can see that I have a lot to offer, a lot to be happy about.

And that’s so important — being able to look at your own strengths, and see your true value. It’s actually one of the keys to success, because without this ability, you will be unmotivated, and won’t believe in yourself.

I wanted to talk about this issue because of an email from a reader recently:

I come from a Tier-2 city of India. I belong to middle class family. My job also such that I can’t meet both my ends, if I get married and start a new family.

The problem is that I have got my teammates, who come from very affluent families. I can’t stop myself comparing my lifestyle with theirs. I know it is not proper to compare myself with them on the basis of what physical possessions they have. I must say that my financial planning is sound enough to take care of my existing family; and I can take care of new family member also, at least for some time even if I lose my current job. But whenever I see or hear them spending so much money after possessions, I start comparing again. How can I stop this habit, without changing jobs?

This is an excellent question, and a tough one. I think it’s natural to compare ourselves to others, but as the reader noticed, it often makes us unhappy even if we have enough and should be happy with what we have.

My quick advice: try to be aware of when you start comparing yourself to others … once you’ve developed this awareness, try this trick: stop yourself. Tell yourself, “Stop that!” And then start thinking about all the things you DO have, the things you love, the people you have, the blessings that life has given you. Make this a regular practice, and you’ll start to be happier with your life.

The Effects of Social Comparisons
But let’s take a look for a moment at what’s wrong with comparing yourself with others:

These aren’t good things. Let’s look at how to stop this phenomenon.

Breaking the Habit of Comparing Yourself With Others
So how do you break this cycle of comparing yourself with others? Here are some tips I’ve found useful:

“To love is to stop comparing.” - Bernard Grasset

See elsewhere: Open Sourcing Your Creativity on LifeDev



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