Why aren’t we thrilled about our life sometimes? Why aren’t we overjoyed with it? What pinned down your attention when I asked you this? It’s fairly easy to stop feeling content when we are constantly busy comparing ourselves to others.
You see a guy driving by in a car that you think is better than yours. You see somebody at the gym with a thinner body and you feel bad about the way things are with your body when you look in the mirror. You see that guy who parades with his stories about his dream job and it sends you wondering about your own career path… You see pictures of new exotic adventures, breathtaking travels and awesome hobbies of people… You see them having “more” fun and think you are just not good enough for all that. And then you wonder WHY you don’t have all that.
It is natural that we compare our reality maps with a fantasy of someone else’s life that we see as “ideal”. It’s not the checking that gives us grief or brings any sense. Comparing our life with the life of somebody else is not the same if we would, for example, compare oranges to oranges in the fruit section in a store. Continuing that thought, why would we want to compare the sweetness of a cheesecake with mountain peaks?! My point is: those are by far very different things.
Here’s another example. I absolutely love swimming. Let’s say I swim in a pool and then I see another swimmer passing me by at top speed. He is obviously a much better swimmer than me. And in that split of a second I feel awful about myself. I feel as if I was a lousy swimmer and I do not deserve to be in the swimming pool…
And then I learned a trick.
How to Stop Comparing Yourself to Others
Why on Earth would I compare myself to that faster swimmer if I didn’t have enough information? What things didn’t I know about him?
1. How far is he set to swim? Is he training for anything in particular? He might be training to cross over the English Channel or Bosphorus and the timing is vital for him, whereas I was just swimming for the sake of it with no special target in mind.
2. How many years has he been swimming? It is likely that he was swimming since childhood and I only have been a regular in the swimming pool for the last couple of years.
3. What’s his stamina? He might be going on like that for straight couple of hours distributing his energy accordingly. He might be a professional athlete and that’s why his body is capable of going that fast for that long.
4. What else is stewing in his life right now? Maybe he had nothing more to do but to go and train in the swimming pool? Maybe he takes swimming very seriously and tries to prove something to himself?
5. What is his motivation behind this all? Maybe he just wants to beat everyone in swimming? Or maybe he just likes to swim fast and couldn’t care less about anything in the world in that moment?
Do you see where I’m going with this? I knew nothing about that person who passed me by in the swimming pool. So why the hell would I compare his outstanding swimming speed with mine? It is absolutely unimportant! It was just a mere coincidence that we were both swimming in the same pool. NOTHING else is the same.
Ok, what if we thought similarly about other things in our lives? You would then see that the comparison between us and others would be pointless and even absurd.
So what’s the conclusion, I asked myself? The only thing that is relevant is how I swim. The only thing that is meaningful is to concentrate on myself, my swimming and my own comfortable speed. I shall keep swimming. More and more. Making progress at my own pace. The only thing I should do is to compare myself to myself.
That’s what all of us should do. Enjoy our swim in the waters of life, learn more about our potential and get rid of all the absurd comparisons. This way we will all learn to enjoy our journey even more.
By Lesya Li
Photo from vk.com