Is comparing to others good or bad? Like everything else in life, it all depends on how you use it. If played negatively, it can also lead to a sense of loss and diminished self-worth. So, are you trapped in the comparing game?
To “compare” is to look closely at another person or situation to see what is similar or different about them to decide which one is better. You can play the “Comparing Game” as proof of concept- that if other people have done it, you can do it too.
Twenty-five years ago, I moved to a new country, got married, and settled in a new city. Around the same time, another foreigner like me, let’s call him Tom, arrived in the same town, and also got married, and we both started our new lives around the same time frame.
Tom has done exceptionally well financially. He became a leading exporter, landowner, and a millionaire. He has homes in other countries, his kid’s study at expensive colleges abroad, and he lives in a beautiful home.
During that period, he also got divorced, had a dangerous brain tumor, and almost died. Tom survived a painful surgery, and his father, whom he loved dearly, died around the same time that he was recovering.
My lifestyle was different than Tom’s. I have always been involved in social causes, and my business is educational, and we were helping others more than just merely earning lots of money. As a result, my life has been very happy and fulfilled, but not as wealthy, financially speaking.
If I did not know Tom as close as I did, I could have been tempted to compare myself to his lifestyle and financial successes. But knowing all that he has gone through in life, I admire him for pulling through, but honestly, I would not have liked to trade places or walk in his shoes.
We live in a time in history where we can have almost immediate access to anyone and anything. Social media is a powerful tool that we now use daily to see how others live and what they do. We can also use it to learn and grow, as we can follow people that have achieved tremendous success and model what they have done.
If you are struggling to pay your bills or going through different challenges, and then you go to Instagram or FB and scroll people’s profiles living what it seems perfect lives, with finances, health, and social relations at their peak; comparisons will hit you. And the green monster of envy or jealousy will lift its ugly head.
Social media is great when used in moderation, and if you are truly aware that a high percentage of those posts are “humblebragging,” then you are safe. The video of a person you know, doing something great, and that you may interpret like: “ They are doing this, and I’m not!” It can be like a constant reminder of what you think you may be missing out in life.
These thoughts can produce a negative effect on your mental state.
What can you do?
- Compare yourself with the person you were yesterday. What it counts is the progress we make as human beings. Most probably you are better today than you were a month or a year ago.
- Think about all the goals that you have already figured out, and what you have accomplished so far. Successes that perhaps you didn’t even give yourself credit for.
- The truth is that even though you are maybe lagging in some areas of your life, at the same time, you are doing great in other areas. Do not focus on what is missing because then unhappiness and dissatisfaction might occur.
- Practice Kaizen: a Japanese business philosophy of continuous improvement of working practices & personal efficiency. How do you eat an elephant? One bite at the time. Create a culture of progress in your own life.
- Remember: someone will always be ahead; others will be behind. That is OK. That is their life, not yours. Rejoice for the success of others, and use it as a motivator for your success.
- Do not compare yourself with Tom. You don’t know what is happening behind the scenes. Once I lost my business with only a phone call- I was devastated! But if you saw me coming out of my new car and going into my office in the best building in town, you would not have guessed what had just happened.
- Remember that life is a journey, not a race! Do not spoil the process by comparing your life to someone else. You are unique and have an exceptional experience to live and a unique cross to bear.
- Never feel ashamed for trying and failing, for he that has never failed has never tried.
- Comparing will steal away your happiness and joy quicker than anything else. It leads to dissatisfaction, unhappiness, and in extreme cases-bitterness.
- You have but only one life to live, do not waste it! Value every day as its value is without price. Make each day the best day of your life, and do not waste it by playing the comparing game.
- Learn to switch from the negativity of comparing to honestly praising the success of others around you. When you feel yourself being critical or judgmental, and start comparing to others, switch over to the bright side by showing support and pouring your energy into something loving and positive.
- You can also be an influencer for good. Next time you post something on social media, ask yourself: “Will this make someone happy as well? Will it bring some value to others?”
Let’s try to be happy by making others happy as well.
Social media is here to stay, whether you like it or not. The question is whether you can learn to control it rather than allowing it to control your life and your thoughts. The answer is really up to you!
“To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson
Vitin Landivar www.habitsofsuccess.org