And 3 Ways to Stop Doing it
Do you ever look at someone and automatically assume that it must feel wonderful to be them? I constantly look at others and often without even realizing it begin to imagine how great it must be to have her body or live his life.
We all do it. It’s human nature. We Compare and contrast without being conscious of it.
Don’t believe me?
Just open up any social media platform and the comparisons are imminent. You could be having a wonderful day and take one look at so and so’s post in her bikini while on vacation in Tahiti, and suddenly you’re feeling miserable about your body and what you’re doing with your life.
Why do we torture ourselves this way?
I came across this piece of advice recently that resonated strongly.
Don’t compare how you feel inside to how others appear outside.
It’s so easy to assume that someone who has what you want has a great life. It’s easy to assume that his life is better and more successful than yours.
But there are a million other reasons that the opposite could be true. Outward appearances mean nothing. Maybe that person wants something completely different than what he has right now. Maybe he just found out he has a terminal illness and only 6 months to live. So now he is living like a rock star, spending all his money, and having the time of his life while he still can.
Do you still think his life is better than yours?
Conversely, there are likely many people looking at you thinking you have everything they want and would love to trade places.
But they don’t know that you struggle to get out of bed some mornings just like they do. They don’t know that you feel uncomfortable in your clothes and get nervous before pool parties where you’ll have to mingle with acquaintances you haven’t seen in years.
On any given day, at any given moment, someone somewhere is faking it. Someone is putting on the appearance of having it all together when inside she is secretly falling apart. It’s part of being an adult in a civilized society.
So why don’t we all give ourselves a break and stop comparing our insides to someone else’s pretty exterior? It’s completely counterproductive to compare our weakness to someone else’s strengths.
Time is better spent improving how we feel inside thereby decreasing our obsession to compare to others in the first place.
When we feel good about ourselves it is easier to find joy in other’s strengths.
Here are three ways I Practice feeling better about myself while also decreasing the habit of comparison.
Gratitude helps you to see the strengths that are already present. This works two-fold: First, it inhibits the longing or desire for something you don’t presently have. Second, it cultivates a greater sense of well being for recognizing what is already good in your life. When you become aware that you are Comparing yourself to others or feeling bad about what you don’t have, make a point to think of one or two things you are grateful for. Research shows that people with a consistent gratitude practice are more optimistic and report feeling greater satisfaction with their lives than control groups without a gratitude practice.
② Appreciate Others
When I catch myself comparing to others, I reverse it and turn it into appreciation. I remember that we are all connected and that someone else’s strengths can be an extension of my own. I may not be there yet but seeing someone else achieving it means it’s possible. This makes someone else’s accomplishment inspiring rather than discouraging.
③ Practice Loving Kindness Meditation
This specific meditation practice is designed to create greater compassion for yourself and others. Scientific research is now confirming what the Buddhist’s have known for centuries. Loving-kindness practice increases empathy, reduces bias and discrimination, and increases social connection. It is a simple practice that anyone can do at any time. Further research shows that only 8 minutes a day has an impact on developing deeper empathy and compassion in your life. For more on this beneficial practice, check out my article below.
How to Be Happier & Healthier in 8 Minutes a Day
Comparison creates scarcity and separation. A comparing mind separates us from each other. By practicing gratitude, appreciation, and loving-kindness, you strengthen your connection to others. You make room for everyone to have happiness. When you feel connected to others, their joy becomes a source of your joy. It is isolation that fosters comparison and envy.
The next time you catch yourself comparing how you feel to how someone else appears, remember we are all connected. We all struggle at times and we all rejoice at times. You may have more in common than you think. So be grateful for what you have, appreciate what they have and reach out to let someone know she inspires you. She may be feeling the same about you.
P R E V I O U S ⟸⟸ How to Be Satisfied in the Present
N E X T ⟹ ⟹ 3 Strategies to Finding More Time in the Day
Debby Germino is a freelance tv/film editor who enjoys writing about mindfulness, health, and strategies for happier living. She writes a bi-weekly newsletter and is open to comments and suggestions on any of these topics.
Why Comparisons are Killing Your Happiness was originally published in The Ascent on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.