Wisdom//

Why Breaking Out of the Comparison Trap Can Make Us Happier

Sometimes you have to put yourself first, and tune out the rest of the noise.

zakokor/ Getty Images
zakokor/ Getty Images

“Comparison is the death of joy.”

– Mark Twain

Mark Twain was right, comparison is the death of joy. Getting caught in the comparison trap, is also a sure way to disconnect from your inner truth.

Life can be noisy, if we allow it to be. When we get sloppy in our devotion to personal alignment, the urge to search outside of ourselves for happiness is enticing.

We live in a society that is fueled by illusions. When we feel unhinged, it’s easy to buy into the illusion that others hold the key to our happiness. The further we step away from our truth, the more we believe others know what is better for us than we do. We get caught in the comparison trap, when we stop trusting in our own inner guidance, and instead pursue someone else’s path to happiness.

What constitutes an abundant life is different for everyone. My personal definition of success is probably different than yours. Yet, when we separate from our inner truth, we likely experience similar feelings, such as: angst, uneasiness, fear, jealousy, worry, and sometimes even loneliness.

The surest way to align with our own version of an abundant life, is to stay grounded in our values and truth. But, when we’ve become accustomed to chasing happiness and comparing ourselves to others, it’s hard to know where to start. How do we say goodbye to comparison when we’re so familiar with using it as a measuring stick for our worth?

Bidding a final farewell to comparison is easier said than done, especially when comparison is a well-practiced habit. It is more manageable to say goodbye to old habits, when we put our focus on making small daily steps that feel good.

Instead of focusing on changing the noise around us, we can strengthen the only thing we truly have control over – our inner bond and our perception of the noise.

The path to strengthening our inner spirit is the one that feels right to us – it’s a personal journey with individualized steps. When we trust in ourselves to feel our way through, our abundant life can’t help but unfold.   

These are the 3 pillars of wisdom I regularly turn to on my journey that help inform my steps. These ideas remind me why it always feels better to trust in my inner wisdom, and say goodbye to comparison.

#1) There is Enough Happiness and Abundance for Everyone

I don’t define abundance in terms of finances or things. In my life, abundance is having a sense of happiness, health, gratitude, purpose and connection to loved ones. Abundance looks different to each of us, and it’s easier to recognize and grab hold of when we lead life from the inside out – not the other way around.  

One of my mom’s favorite pieces of wisdom to share with me over the years, is to stop caring about what other people think. She would give me a gentle nudge to pursue all of my dreams because according to her there isn’t a quota on abundance or happiness. There is enough happiness available to us all.

She has been right every time, and more than that, hearing these words feels right in my bones. What about you? Does it feel right to hear there is enough joy for everyone, and your happiness won’t rob someone else of their happiness?

Fear of lack only breeds more of the same. We don’t need to compete with others to prove our worth. There is no sense in comparing ourselves to others because each of us is individual and there is enough abundance for us all. Chase your own happiness and wish others well on their journey and pursuit of a life well-loved.

#2) Your Feelings Are Your Guidance System

Having an inner guidance system may sound abstract and nonsensical to some. But that couldn’t be further from the truth. How we feel every waking moment is our guidance system at work.

Tuning in to this brilliant GPS isn’t something we need special training for – just pay attention, that’s it. Pay attention to how you feel. We were born knowing how to dance with our feelings, without doubting ourselves. Over time, external noise and expectations tempt us into believing we should separate from our feelings and instead lead solely from logic.

How you feel should never be ignored. Your feelings help inform you whether or not you’re in alignment with your inner truth. Your feelings give you feedback whether it’s in your best interest to attach to the thoughts and stories you spin in your mind. Your feelings help you know whether people and experiences are a right match for you.

All of our feelings are beautiful and magical and should never be ignored. They are meant to be felt. The more we trust our feelings, the more comfortable we become decoding them in order to get back on our own abundant path.

#3) Aim to Encourage not Discourage  

Comparing ourselves to others is entirely different than being ‘inspired’ by others. When we are inspired by someone, we see value in what that person is offering the world, and witnessing their gift lifts us up. When we are inspired by someone, we have a sense of joy and admiration for another human being – we want to encourage them to keep shining bright. When we are inspired, we may be motivated to create more happiness in our lives, but it doesn’t come at the expense of criticizing ourselves or the other person.

When we compare ourselves to others, I believe we are doing one of two things. We are either beating ourselves up for not being like the other person, or for not achieving whatever it is we believe the other has that we don’t. Or, we are beating up the other person because doing so makes the person sharing their gift seem inferior. If that person is knocked down a bit, then the person feeling insecure about themselves gains a very temporary feeling of perceived superiority and security.

When we know the difference, we can check in with ourselves and ask whether we are being someone who encourages or discourages others.

If we are encouraging, it generally means we are also aligned with our truth, and we feel secure in that. When we want to encourage others, we recognize that we don’t have to compete with each other – there is room for us all to shine.

If we find ourselves comparing and discouraging ourselves and others – it’s our signal to direct our attention inward, and get grounded and re-aligned in our values and truth.

Wherever we find ourselves on the spectrum is okay. Understanding our tendencies, can help us know where we need to make steps to get on our path to abundance. There is no sense in beating ourselves up if we find ourselves caught in the comparison loop. It’s more empowering to be gentle with ourselves, and have a bit of fun as we practice self-awareness and accountability.

Practice what it feels like to encourage someone else who is on a similar path as you. Be someone who encourages others, even when they discourage you. Encourage others because it feels good to step into that energy. Encourage others because it feels good to witness and celebrate the light in them, that also exists in you.

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