Everyone wants happiness in their life, right? That’s obvious. People will go to great lengths to do things or buy things that they believe will make them happy.
But the sad thing is, every single person does something every single day that destroys their happiness in an instant. It can take the joy right out of you and make you resentful, dissatisfied, angry or depressed.
This daily, awful thing that we do to ourselves is we compare ourselves to others. Theodore Roosevelt once said, “Comparison is the thief of joy.” Yet we all do it, every single day! We compare ourselves to others at home. At work. While scrolling through Facebook. In the store. Working out in the gym. While sitting in class.
We are constantly doing it. We are depriving ourselves of joy, all while putting ourselves down and diminishing our value as a person. “I wish my house was as cute as hers.” “I wish we had a better car like them.” “If only my husband could have that job.” “If only I could be skinny like her.”
Stop it. You are destroying yourself.
Yes it might be hard to completely get rid of comparing yourself to others. Even the most confident person may compare themselves to others from time to time. But has it gotten out of control for you? Has it been robbing you of your peace and joy for too long? Ready for a change?
First, let’s talk about why comparing yourself to others is so incredibly toxic. Then we can talk about how to actually STOP.
Comparisons are Unfair
When we compare ourselves to other people it is always unfair. ALWAYS. We automatically compare our weaknesses and the ugly parts of ourselves to their strengths and their seemingly stunning characteristics.
The thing is, life is naturally unfair. No two people start on the same path because everybody’s life is so vastly different. The person who is born into a wealthy, highly-educated family will have a very different life than the person who is born into a home where both parents are working to barely make ends meet. And these two people will have made different decisions that will have shaped their lives in different ways.
When we play the comparison game, we always come out the loser.
You Are Unique – There is Only One You
I know, this sounds really touchy-feely and cliche, but it is TRUE! There is only one you and there will only ever BE one you, ever! There may be people who are similar to you, but there’s no one is exactly like you.
You have your own unique sets of talents, gifts, successes, contributions, and values. They can never properly be compared to anyone else, because they are uniquely YOURS. When you compare yourself to others you don’t honor your own individuality and uniqueness. You throw that aside because you wish to be like someone else or you wish your life were someone else’s life.
Don’t do that! Honor yourself and your unique traits. Realize you cannot truly compare yourself to others because YOU are the only you around.
Comparisons Waste Time and Energy
When you start down the comparison road, there is no end to how far you can go. There will always be something you can compare yourself or your life to. It wastes a ton of time and energy.
When was the last time you found yourself cyber-stalking someone and doing comparisons of yourself with that person? I have caught myself doing this so many times! I was Facebook-stalking someone and I didn’t even realize I was comparing myself at first. When I finally “came to” I realized I had wasted 20 minutes of my life, doing something that was harmful and hurtful to myself.
I could’ve spent that time doing so many other valuable and important things, instead of measuring myself and my life against someone else.
Comparisons Rob Us Of Joy
When was the last time you felt great and good about yourself after comparing your life to someone else’s? I am 100% sure the answer is never. In my opinion, comparing yourself to others is the #1 deadly killer to happiness. It makes you resentful, both towards others and towards yourself.
So, obviously, comparing to other people is a big no-no. It never has and never will benefit you or anyone else.
So how do we stop? How do we stop playing this comparison game?
How to Stop Comparing Yourself and Your Life to Others
1. Focus On and Celebrate Your Own Successes
Instead of focusing on other people and on all of the amazing things they are doing, focus on your own successes! Focus on the great, fantastic things you are doing in your life.
Celebrate the fact that you survived your DrH’s last call shift, on your own, with your three kids. Be happy that you managed to go a whole three hours without losing your patience. Pat yourself on the back for finally tackling that project you’ve been meaning to do for FOREVER. Or do a happy-dance because you were a frugal master and scored a great deal at the grocery store today.
2. Practice Gratitude
When you are grateful for what you have, you don’t have time to look at someone else’s life and wish yours was like that. Instead you will be counting your blessings and focusing on everything you are thankful for in your life.
Being grateful every single day has been so important for me, especially while my DrH has been in his medical residency. It has been hard – there is no doubt about it – but I have always been able to find something to be grateful for, every single day.
If you sign up for my newsletter you’ll receive some free tips and tools on how to make gratitude a daily thing in your life. It’s been life changing for me and I know it can help you too.
3. Realize the Grass is Not Always Greener
You know how sometimes you meet someone who looks like they have it all together? Who looks like they have the perfect house, perfect marriage, and perfect kids? They don’t.
They sometimes fall flat on their face, just like you. They also struggle with their marriage sometimes or have a hard time keeping their kids from running wild, just like you. And they also have days where the dishes are out of control or the laundry is never-ending. They also have moments where they feel inadequate or just want to give up.
Because really, all of us are fighting our own fight and overcoming our own obstacles. Every single person has their own stuff they have to deal with. Just remember that you never know the whole story.
4. Do Your Best With What You Have
Like I said before, you’ve been given your own set of strengths and weaknesses. You have unique gifts and things you have learned from your own life experiences. Now take what you have and do your best! Be the best person you can be with what you’ve been given.
Yes, your friend might be more outgoing and friendlier than you are. Or your sister’s husband may help cook dinner every night and you can’t remember the last time your husband was even home in time for dinner. But instead of yearning for those gifts or those circumstances, identify your own strengths or the things that make your life rich and rewarding. After you’ve identified those, focus on those! Take what you have and work with it – do your best.
5. The Only Fair Comparison is Comparing Against Yourself
If you feel like you have to compare, only compare against yourself. We all should strive to be the best we can be. A great way to measure how you are doing is to compare yourself against YOU. Compare how you are doing now to how you were doing yesterday, a week ago, a month ago, a year ago. Are you where you want to be? If not, you can make the changes necessary to get you back on track. If you are, give yourself a pat on the back – you are doing a GREAT job.
6. Seek Inspiration From Others Without Comparing
It is a great idea to to learn from other people, but don’t compare while you do it! It is possible to be inspired by other people and to learn from their life experiences without slipping into comparison mode.
Do you want to learn something from someone? Ask them questions – ask away! Other people have wisdom that can be so valuable to you, especially if they are in circumstances similar to yours. But pay attention to your own attitude as you talk to this person. If you find yourself slipping into negativity or you start hearing your inner voice saying things like, “Oh man, I wish I were more like her,” then stop right there. You are now comparing yourself.
Stop asking those questions, change the subject, and try again another time. The more you practice seeking inspiration from others without comparing, the better you will become at it.
Let’s stop destroying our happiness by comparing ourselves, and our lives, to others. It’s just like this quote that I LOVE:
“Don’t compare your Chapter 1 to someone else’s Chapter 15. Follow your own path, write your own life story, and never give up on yourself.” – Unknown
**Image from Gratisography