Stop comparing yourself to others. Do it. Right now.
You’re doing it anyway aren’t you? On Facebook. On LinkedIn. In every magazine and newspaper you read. Even at dinner among your friends.
It’s hard to just stop. At least that’s what I’ve learned today. In attempting to complete Day 3’s task, I realized that on the road to reducing those troublesome comparisons you have to take it one thought at a time. You have to remind yourself that everyone has their own path and that just because the grass seems greener on the other side, you’ve no idea about the struggle it took to get it that way or if it’s even grass at all: it could just be barren earth covered in AstroTurf.
Comparisons are especially addictive when you feel terrible about yourself. Sometimes we use them to make ourselves feel better in some small shallow way at someone else’s expense. Other times we punish ourselves for past mistakes or opportunities not taken by beating ourselves up with other people’s success.
(Sometimes comparisons can be good. It can be a way to learn about the people around us and a way to motivate us to be better people. But today is about reducing unhealthy, negative comparisons which can trigger stress and anxiety.)
What really helped me to combat my (negative) comparative thoughts today was this quotation from the Day 3 section of the 14 Days article:
“If you must compare, gauge how you’re doing now against who you were last year. ‘Do a better deed today than you did yesterday,’ says Dan Baker, Ph.D., author of What Happy People Know.”
Baker went on to say this:
Instead, “nurture your own growth, which will make you happier still.”
That last bit about nurturing my own growth really resonated with me. Things have gotten better since last year. I’m working again. I’m writing more often. I have a clearer plan for what I want to do with my life. My social life has bounced back. I still have things I’d like work on and they will require hard work but I’m at a point now where I’m feeling stronger every day, and getting strong enough to work toward how I want my life to be.
Today, once I started thinking about how much better things are now, I thought less about how I measured up against other people’s accomplishments and I was able to relax a bit. It’s not about them. They’re on a different path.
It’s freeing to just stay focused on my own path and what I have to do. It’s like a hundred less worries to worry about.
As always, I hope you enjoyed this post. Don’t hesitate to let me know what you think. I’d love to hear your opinions, questions and stories!
I’d also like to thank SELF Magazine for posting the article,“14 Days to a Happier, Healthier You!” , which inspired this blog post.
Also, I’d like to thank Dan Baker, Ph.D., the author of What Happy People Know: How the New Science of Happiness Can Change Your Life for the Better, for sharing his thoughts on comparisons in the Day 3 section of the 14 Days article.
Thanks for reading and I hope you all have a lovely day!