Written by Megan Davis

Why you can't let comparison steal your joy

It’s a natural instinct to compare yourself to other people, from when you were very young to now. Does that kid have better toys? Did she get a higher score on that test? Why didn’t I get accepted to that college too? I just got a new job, but my friend has a better one.

This natural instinct, however, steals joy in an instant. Poof. Gone.

It shortchanges you and makes your goals, progress, and achievements feel “less than.”

Don’t let other people’s accomplishments make yours feel small 

We aren’t born perfect. Life hands each of us a certain set of challenges, and just like our personal growth, those challenges never stop.

Not one person has an identical situation to yours, and that’s why it doesn’t make sense to compare what you’ve done, seen, or accomplished with someone else. Apples aren’t oranges and oranges aren’t apples, after all.

Do you remember the first time you picked up a new hobby or tried a new recipe? I do. And I also remember feeling so relieved and happy when I finally “got it.” But then, I’d go back to the original photo in the cookbook and be so frustrated that mine didn’t look the same that I’d close the book and put it back on the shelf, never to be used again.

But just become mine didn’t look the same didn’t mean it wasn’t something I should celebrate. And the happiness I felt should have been more important to me than comparing it to a professional’s work done on their very best day. I let the comparison stop me from trying again or being proud of what I’d done. (Full disclosure, I still don’t cook.)

Change your mindset

Although it’s normal to make comparisons, it’s also more detrimental than you might think. In addition to stealing your joy, it stalls your growth. I think a really common example is exercise and personal fitness. Have you ever felt great about a workout or shaving that 30 seconds off your mile time, only to see someone else at the gym who’s 10 times fitter than you or who runs a 5-minute mile?

It’s discouraging. And it’s not useful. But never forget that it’s not fair to compare our beginning to someone else’s middle. 

So, instead of asking if you are as good as someone else or as talented or as capable, remind yourself that you absolutely are! Put yourself in a better mindset and then ask yourself, what else could I be doing? We all have to start somewhere.

It doesn’t matter what other people are accomplishing as long as you’re doing what is right for YOU and you’re making progress.

This story was originally posted on 3/14/2019. 

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