“A flower does not think of competing to the flower next to it. It just blooms, and that’s why it seems so beautiful.”
She came to me bouncing, running and jumping enthusiastically to show me something really important to her. She was my little sister. 12 years old, innocent, small, lovely sweet little girl. I was ready to heartily appreciate what she had to show me with a bucket full of enthusiasm. She came to me with her black and blue notebook wrapped up with a funny cartoon cover – whose name I heard for the first time, but however, it was looking decent and quite funny. She flipped up pages quickly, landing onto a good looking page on which she wrote all her marks – she had maintained a good track record. She had scored maximum marks in almost all the subjects. She seemed to be overly happy – and totally satisfied with her result (though there still was a window open in the room for improvement) I knew she could do better – only if she went for that “extra mile” that makes all the difference.
I said, “Well, you look pretty satisfied with your result this time, don’t you? Yet I think there’s still something you could do to improve on this. I believe, it still has a space for improvement – something that I think you should consider and keep growing.”
And maybe as if she was waiting for something similar (or maybe she anticipated this from me, so she was well prepared.). She quickly flipped few more pages and landed on to another one which had marks of three of her other friends. She showed me their marks – they were quite poor this time. They were merely able to score the “bare minimum” required to go along and cross the “passline”. She said, “See. Here are the marks of some of my core friends. I have outranked them all and scored far better than them.”
I thought, “Ah! So this is the reason why she seems to be so happy this time.” I perfectly remember her last (previous) exam results – that was fantastic, she had scored amazing marks that time as well. But that time she wasn’t as happy as today, that is where I realized her definition of happiness. Knowingly or unknowingly she had the worst definition of happiness – which either she had inherited from her parents or inhabited it from her surroundings. But one thing was sure – if she nurtured this definition until it became her core belief, she won’t be able to feel good ever. She would always keep comparing her achievements with people around her who have achieved something better.
And tell me, will there always be people who are doing far better than us, no matter how successful we are? You bet! There always will be someone far away in the sky who might be doing far better than you. There will always be someone who could run faster, had nicer clothes, took regular vacations, was allowed to wear makeup and always had the latest and greatest. But that doesn’t mean that you don’t have “right” to be happy. The point of the matter is that you should also remember that there always will be someone who’s striving to achieve the level of success that you are enjoying at this point of time. The funny thing about comparison is the person you are comparing yourself with might be comparing himself with you and becoming unhappy. This situation happens because we tend to compare our weaknesses with other people strength. Two people can easily compare their selves with each other and both can feel unhappy or underachieved.
Ever heard the phrase “don’t compare your middle to someone else’s ending?” I’m sure you’re aware of it. But for most of us, instead of making that realization, we jump to conclusions and believe we’ll never make anything of our lives — we forget that everyone has a humble beginning. You should always just focus on “your thing”. Because after all no one in this world can be “you” except “you”. Then why waste time becoming someone else?
“Happiness is found when you stop comparing yourself to other people.”
Coming back to my little sister – she wasn’t going to feel good or happy until she had her happiness dependent on some external sources and
Today the problem is, the definition of happiness has totally altered. Today, happiness is – “What do I have with respect to him/her.” Well, that is originally the definition of “unhappiness” and “suffering”.
“Comparison is a Thief of Joy.
I felt sorry for myself because I had no shoes until I met a man who had no feet. We tend to forget the fact that there is always somebody worse than you are…”
Here are the few core reasons why you should never consider the idea of comparing yourself with someone else whosoever he/she might be… (Each one is worth considering – at least you should give ’em a chance.)
#1. Remember that everyone is potentially going through a battle we don’t know about.
It’s very easy to make generalizations from other people’s “seemingly perfect” lives. We, humans, generalize a lot – we are master generalizers! We tend to think other people are happier than us – well that’s not the case – always. They may have it all or have what you want to have but that doesn’t necessarily mean they are happy.
Comparing apples and oranges. You’re not using a scientific method, your comparison is skewed and you’re comparing things, which cannot be compared. After all, you just don’t know the “full scoop” of anyone’s life. May be those “seemingly happy” people are going through something worse than anything we have ever imagined. So, it’s silly and foolish to make generalizations by just the “outer interpretation” of how you think things “might be” in someone’s life.
“DON’T COMPARE YOURSELF TO OTHERS. YOU HAVE NO IDEA WHAT THEIR JOURNEY IS ALL ABOUT.”
#2. Social Media leads to “DELUSION”
These days, it’s a hell of a lot easier to get caught in the comparison trap. Simply pick up your phone and launch into a social media spiral and you’ll be feeling like a wilted violet by the time you’re done. (For creatives, in particular, this can be devastating to your work and a happiness stealer.)
Social Media is a place where people gather and collect some of the “very best” bits of their lives – and that it is not at all a full picture of how things are going on in their lives. It’s pretty easy to fall into the delusion that the people around us are living a happy, fulfilled, and a carefree life – but it’s not the case always. You don’t have all the information. When you compare your life to another’s life, you’re always missing information. You see what you’re shown but not much else. In order to have all the information you would have to be them but you’re you. If you compare your struggles for “massive” success with someone’s celebration of success or an elevated birthday party – you are surely going to feel down. It’s easy to forget the old age fact that the best is yet to come and the future is exciting if you “keep the spark alive”.
WHAT LIES BEHIND YOU AND WHAT LIES IN FRONT OF YOU PALES IN COMPARISON TO WHAT LIES INSIDE YOU.”
#3: It’s smoke and mirrors.
Remember: The grass is always greener on the other side – until you get there and find out it’s astroturf. Symbols are not reality. Someone might have amassed material success in their outside world, but this doesn’t mean they’re truly happy in their inner world. And “BEING HAPPY ON THE INSIDE” is the Holy Grail – not material success. So, don’t go judging a person’s book of their life by their mere cover. You must read at least 127 pages of “THE BOOK OF WHO SOMEONE REALLY REALLY IS” to know where that person is truly at on the inside. After all, there are many successful people (quickie aka: Marilyn Monroe) who seem to have it all, but were coming undone within.
“It’s smoke and mirrors. Not always is what you see what you get. When you begin to understand this principle, you begin to understand the grass is not greener.”
#4: stop outranking others and start outranking your own self:
You are unique – why don’t you accept it with an unshakeable sense of certainty? We all are unique in some or other ways – but a majority of people, rather than focusing on their strengths always look on the other side of fence. Well, rather than chasing other’s uniqueness – what if you could start pursuing and outranking “your own greatness”?
“Wherever you go, no matter what the weather, always bring your own sunshine.”
Start to outrank your own self each day of every year, each year and every year! Remember: Anything you can do, YOU CAN DO BETTER! Remember: One of the biggest contributors to happiness is recognizing you are far stronger and far more talented than you originally gave yourself credit for!
“I’M NOT INTERESTED IN COMPETING WITH ANYONE. I HOPE WE ALL MAKE IT.”
#5: you don’t know what happiness means to them:
What “happiness” might be for you – does not means that it’s the same for everyone around you with whom you are comparing yourself with. Maybe for you, “happiness” might be to possess a lot of luxurious things – but it might not be the same case with that “rich gentleman” with whom you are comparing yourself with.
In order to compare, you must make assumptions. This point is hyper-stressed because you don’t know their life, you only have a finite amount of knowledge to work with, and you have to fill in the blanks from your own knowledge and perspective and that’s nonsense.
If you are yet not convinced with all the above stuff, and you are still determined to compare yourself as much as possible – then I think here’s a quick tip for you: Use comparison in a positive way. Rather than getting deflated or feeling down – use it as a fuel to do better and become more than you gad possibly imagine.
A Bonus Lesson: If we look upon our entire discussion from a whole different perspective, here’s something else we can learn from it. (I call it “out-of-the-box thinking”)
#1: Our growth is majorly proportional to the people we surround ourselves with. We should always surround ourselves with people who are doing far better than us. Make sure you have enough high standards for you to feel proud of. My sister was happy as she had scored far better than her “peer group”. But there were still some pals doing better than her – far better. So, rather than feeling disappointed, she could positively use comparison to her most benefit.
“Birds of same feather flocks together. Show me your friend and I will tell who you are, Know yourself and never be distracted in life for God has great expectation of you.”
– From my interview with Dr Olasambo Ajoke Savage (Read the full interview here.)