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How Gratitude Helped Me Defeat the Comparison Complex

When the ugly head of comparison rears its head, turning to gratitude can help us focus on what we have instead of on what we don't.

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Comparison complex defeated with gratitude

I’ve compared myself to others since I was six years old.

I remember sitting at my desk in the first-grade classroom, eyeing the girl in her Brownie uniform and wishing I could be as cute as she was.

In high school and college, I compared myself to the other cheerleaders, the smartest girl in school, our class president.

With the advent of social media as a young mom, my comparison complex became worse than ever.

I felt I could never measure up to the other moms who had the perfectly behaved kids, the coordinated outfits, and the down-to-the-minute nap time and bedtime schedules.

I wasn’t only comparing myself to those in my direct social circle anymore, but moms all over the world that I saw online.

As Theodore Roosevelt so famously said, “Comparison is the thief of joy.”

By the time I was 35, I was tired of robbing myself. It was time to STOP playing the comparison game.

One of the most important things I did to overcome my comparison complex was to start practicing gratitude.

Here’s how it worked:

First, I made a written list of all the things I had to be grateful for. When I started to feel like less, I’d pull out my list and read it over and over again.

Second, when I felt myself starting down the mental path of comparison, I make a mental gratitude list. Walking through the store, I’d recite at least ten things that I had to be thankful for.

Third, I started a daily gratitude practice. Every morning, I write down five things to be thankful for that happened the day before. Focusing daily on what I have (instead of on what I don’t have) primes my mind to find things to be grateful for instead of envious about.

Now, five years later, I’m so thankful for the freedom I have to live full-out, unafraid of failing at the comparison game. Thanks to gratitude, it’s not even a game I play.

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