Growing up, I heard the idiom “keeping up with the joneses”, used in a pejorative way. This phrase refers to people who compare their lives with others as a benchmark for social class or acquisition and accumulation of material goods.
Personally, I have had instances where I was consumed with comparisons. A friend purchases new items, leading to feeling I needed to own same; Consoles, Phones, shoes, down to the sort of women we dated. Failing to keep up in various instances may be perceived as a sign of inferiority or loss of drive for living. Comparison is wired in us evolutionarily. This may result in dissatisfaction, even for people with high status.
For so long, ‘leveling up’, seeking status or seeking advancement in one’s situation in life has been viewed negatively or as undesirable especially in developing societies with conservative leanings. This has led to a pervasive feeling that seeking enhancement in your wellbeing is repugnant to our inherent nature.
Our innate nature, compares and contrasts, as it is a way for us to make sense of our world, identify areas we are doing well and highlight areas of improvement. Without comparison, the world will appear bland.
How do you know you are dressed appropriately, if there is no one dressed shabbily around? How do you know that your confidence level is up, if you don’t encounter diffident people? Comparisons are almost inevitable.
In this post, I explore 3 key ways you can compare favourably with others, without feeling guilty about it.
- INCOME AND FULFILLING WORK.
Income level is a key life area for constant comparison. Some life problems that appear as stress can easily be solved with improved income levels. Global wealth has risen exponentially and stands at about $280 trillion. Though, wealth distribution has remained a challenge. Most corporate careers do not offer fulfilling and meaningful work and this leads to wanting better.
To combat this dissatisfaction which comes with doing unfulfilling tasks and earning less than you feel you deserve, there is need for you to create side projects (hustles). These projects will help augment your income and elicit your passion. We secrete the feel good chemical dopamine when anticipating/pursuing a reward. Creating a meaningful side project with your innate talents and capacity will lead to improved income through perseverance which in turn leads to more purchasing power and ability to solve more life challenges.
In order to do this, you may need to return to the drawing board and start observing areas of life you seem to flow effortlessly when engaged with. You may keep a journal where you note your predominant thoughts with regards to income and work and make projections with the identified recurrent patterns. For this to yield positive results, you must take actions on the identified patterns.
- FITNESS AND HEALTH.
We all admire people who are fit and seem to be in a good state of health. In the 21st century, fitness and health are becoming one of life’s luxuries, though many have not caught up on it yet.
Fitness is an evolutionary indicator that we are still full of life. Our present society appears too busy that we rarely make out time to exercise and train our bodies. This is in contrast with how our ancestors existed as they spent considerable amount of time hunting and gathering food which entailed movement.
Humans constantly wish they were fitter and healthier. Of course, tough work outs have their positive benefits. This includes the secretion of endorphin the feel good chemical that assists in reducing the perception of pain, the feelings of renewed energy, among others. To become fitter and healthier, we must become intentional about what we eat (focusing more on organic food), how we eat (pace with which we chew and swallow) and portion control. Our caloric intake has to be measured.
Again, we must deliberately seek to move more. Sedentary lifestyle is not helping much. To achieve this, you have to avoid to a reasonable extent, processed foods. Replace these with foods that are grown as naturally as possible. Seek to note the quantity of food you consume, how quickly you chew and swallow, how physically mobile you are and ensure you get adequate sleep.
- BUILDING CONFIDENCE.
When we encounter successful people, we instantaneously wish to be like them. We know they are confident most times and exude a certain aura and energy about them. But we never really know how they got to build their confidence.
Confidence in itself is built on choices and accomplishments that feed ones passion. This in turn makes you feel happy and proud of whom you are. To measure up in life, you must be deliberate about building your confidence. To build confidence you must get things done and monitor your progress. Exercising, becoming fearless, standing up for yourself, following through on commitments are other key things you must do.
Confident people also think long term, have a strong value system and jettison other people’s opinion of them. To start building confidence, you must be positive and intentional in the choices you make. Awakening to the realization that confidence can alter one’s life trajectory will go a long way in creating the deliberateness required to forge ahead.
WHY YOU NEED TO MEASURE UP.
In my interactions with some Millennial and Generation Z, I encounter a lot who are not happy in life. They seem to endlessly compare their plight with those of their peers. Thinking that perhaps the other person got to where they are magically, without any work. This is an erroneous perspective. The common denominator with all these people is that they never seem to have a way out of their life situation. This implies that they have externalized their locus of control.
You seek progress, but you are self-sabotaged due to your ingrained mental conditioning. Measuring up in this era of ubiquitous information and knowledge cannot be as difficult as it was a century ago. Our minds will constantly compare, contrast and feel bad when it feels we are not reaching our potential.
To start becoming who you wish to be and to measure up favourably against others, you intentionally need to start working on your income (Ray Dalio in “Principles” described this period in history as that of ‘economic evolution’). To enjoy the income and wealth garnered, you need to be in a good state of health and be fit. Finally, you can’t measure up if you are not confident in yourself and your capabilities.
BRINGING IT ALL TOGETHER- QUICK AND EASY ACTIONABLE STEPS TO ADOPT
- Start discovering your passion; if necessary keep and journal your thoughts, through this exercise your predominant thoughts with respect to work, passion and purpose will start concretizing, devise a means to market and monetize your passion.
- Become more deliberate and intentional about your health and fitness; Eat right and well. Train like an Olympian (aerobics, strength and High Intense Interval Training), get adequate sleep and adequate sunlight.
- Set out daily to build rock solid confidence through your actions- approach more strangers, do tougher things, venture out of your comfort zone, be mindful of your posture and nonverbal communication ability.