Comparison is the thief of joy is a common saying with a strong meaning behind it. Often credited to Theodore “Teddy” Roosevelt in a letter he penned to a friend, the quote essentially means that constantly comparing yourself to others can make you feel worse, lead to low self esteem, and potentially steal the joy from your life.
How we compare ourselves to others in our own life can have a big effect on our mentality, so it’s important that you look at things from a positive perspective. Here are some different ways that comparison is the thief of joy, and how you can stop comparing yourself to others.
Why Comparison is the Thief of Joy
It leads to unrealistic expectations
With social media, we compare ourselves to people by looking at the successful times in their lives, but never consider the journey they’ve taken to find their success. We essentially see the highlight reel of other people’s lives, without knowing the trials and tribulations they’ve gone through to get there.
We forget that each person is unique on his or her path, and success does not necessarily depend entirely on the success of other people. In particular, we compare our career progress against those of colleagues, often wondering why we’re not as making as much progress as they are.
In comparison with other people’s experience, we set unrealistic expectations that often lead to disappointment. This is why it’s important to remember that we’re on our own path living our own lives.
It leads to a negative self-image
When one compares themselves with other people on a regular basis, they tend to highlight the flaws of themselves whilst focussing on the good aspects of others. Having negative thoughts about yourself results in a self perception that you’re not as attractive as you are.
This, in turn, can cause anxiety and lead to a low self-worth. We then start doubting our abilities, which can hinder us from progressing and being successful.
It leads to a sense of jealousy and resentment towards others
When comparing ourselves to others, we often end up becoming jealous of them for the things that they have and we don’t. This envy is misplaced, and it’s important to focus on figuring out how to achieve success on our own terms.
Feeling resentful of someone who has what we desire can only have a negative effect on our life, but in times of struggle it’s often the case that we become bitter with envy.
It robs us of experiencing joy in the present moment
Part of mindfulness is living to experience the current moment as it is, and living in the present instead of focussing on the past. By comparing ourselves to others, you forget the unique talents that you have and concentrate on what someone else has already achieved.
It’s much healthier for us as humans to focus on the now, and how we’re going to move forward and make progress in the coming years.
Comparison turns family and friends into adversaries
When you compare ourselves to other people, they can become enemies. This may not matter when it’s strangers, but feelings of envy towards your friends and family can actually effect how you treat them in real life, consciously or subconsciously.
Often you may feel that your parents treat your sibling better than you, or that your sibling has achieved more than you in life. Comparing yourself with others, especially friends and family, can create an enemy of them instead of seeing them as an important part of your life.
It’s a dangerous road to go down – fortunately, there are many ways that you can stop comparing yourself to others.
10 Ways You Can Stop Comparing Yourself To Others
It is easy to become complacent, and forget to give gratitude for the things that we are given in life.
When we focus on thankfulness and happiness for the positive things we have in our lives, we can see why people should not compare themselves, as we all have different things to be grateful for.
So, we should be thankful for what we have, but not wish for something more than this beyond what is reasonable. This sounds easy, but it is certainly not easy. Make sure you consider everything that you appreciate in your life to practice gratitude.
Focus on self-improvement rather than rivalry
Comparing yourself to other individuals can mean that you lose sight of who you are, and what you need to do to improve.
Constant pursuit to become superior to others leads us to believe we need to follow in their footsteps, but what got them where they are will likely not be the pathway that would take up to the same position.
How do we reach our goal of achieving our dreams? The answer is that we ensure that we are getting better day-by-day, building a block at a time towards the life that we desire.
Free yourself from social media
Facebook and Instagram offer the perfect place for us to compare ourselves to others. When we get bored, we begin to scroll through the timeline of others, without even realizing that we’re subconsciously comparing ourselves with them.
With AI algorithms, these social networks can quickly find out what triggers us, and what we’re interested in. You’ll then be shown more and more of what you desire in your news feed. For this reason, it can be a good idea to take a break from social media.
Focus on Your Own Journey
Don’t worry about the journey of others. We all have a unique life here on Earth, and no two journeys are the same. Remember all of the things that you’ve accomplished in life, remind yourself of all you have achieved and all you have done.
Keep your mind focusing on the future success that you will achieve. Celebrate the good things in your life, and be happy with the way you are – whilst also pushing for a better tomorrow.
Acknowledge Your Feelings
If you feel a little nervous when you compare yourself to other people, acknowledge the way that you feel. We need to recognize and embrace these feelings as normal if we want to address them properly. Remind yourself that comparisons to others is normal, so don’t beat yourself up about it.
Awareness can help us overcome these comparisons as most people don’t get so far as even acknowledging it. When you compare yourself to another, take the time to examine your thoughts – why am I comparing myself to them?
Keeping a Gratitude Journal
Keep gratitude journals can positively affect your life. By writing out the things that you feel grateful for, you can help rewire your mind to focus on other things.
Being appreciative of what you have is increasingly important. It helps to reduce negative feelings, feel encourage to make progress in life, and ultimately help you avoid comparing yourself to other people.
Mindfulness helps us focus on our own thoughts and feelings, and on the present as opposed to the past. It allows people to recognize their negative emotions when they compare themselves to other people, and it helps us to get these emotions under control.
Increasing awareness helps you break the negative thought process, live consciously and stop comparing yourself to others by recognizing these unhelpful thoughts as they occur.
Challenging these isn’t easy, but it is possible when you reduce the anxiety and fear that is often part of not feeling worth it. Increasing empathy towards your self in the long run is just one of the many potential effects of mindfulness.
Celebrate Social Connections with Others in Healthy Ways
It is essential to create healthy connections to other people based on a relationship, but when you’re always comparing yourself to them, it can begin to become unhealthy.
We should learn to celebrate other individuals successes without becoming filled with envy or jealously about what they have achieved.
Giving yourself permission to recognize your own accomplishments can help you to embrace celebrating the success of others.
Embrace Challenges and Setbacks As Opportunities for Growth
It is often hard when one comes up against massive challenges in life. All successful people fail or stumble at some point on their journey, but it’s important that we deal with our own issues as opposed to run away from them.
It’s normal that people feel pressure from potential challenges that they face. In face of such challenges, we should try and rise to the occasion and realize that we can also achieve what others have, and in some cases, go even further too.
Remember, every person has different life experiences and circumstances
People usually share the best aspects of their lives. This is normal, as us humans only want to celebrate the wins that we have in life. However, this highlights that the comparisons can be harmful to you if you focus on them too much.
No-one wants to live a life of jealousy, which often leads to a lack of confidence and less motivation to succeed ourselves. Try to reduce comparisons by remembering that we’re all on our own unique journey in life.
You should feel encouraged by your past successes and focus on them, instead of thinking about things that others have and you don’t.
For true self contentment, we need to accept who we are – only then can we prepare for a future full of joy.