Why Comparison Is Misery

“Someone else’s beauty is not the absence of your own.” When Gail Simmons spoke about this in her interview yesterday, I couldn’t help but think of how true it is, and how all of us are guilty of believing in that absence in one form or another. We are all guilty of frustratingly comparing at some point in our lives. 

It’s at a certain point that all of us should come to a revelation – whether we choose to learn from it or not is another story – that it is completely pointless to compare. If we would just focus on ourselves and measure everything by that standard, comparison would be far less of a burden to bear; life would be better, and we’d be far more productive.

Whether we are speaking in terms of looks or achievements, we are all guilty of looking at what someone else is doing, what someone else’s body type is, what their hair is like, what their skin is like, what their last trip was or what their job is and – if we think it’s something society deems the “popular look” or something that meets society’s barometer of success or beauty – letting that take away from who we are, what we do and how we look. Why is it that we do this? It’s possibly the most futile exercise, and I doubt any of us have seen any success from it. 

Have you ever watched a movie and discovered a certain actress or actor whose body type you wanted to attain? You see the movie and you say, “Wow, I am going to go to the gym five times this week and become a vegan so I can look like this person.” If you have done this, you may know the frustration that comes with that sort of goal. You may have realized that this is a pointless and frustrating exercise. You’ve also possibly then realized that working out with the motive to be the best you that you can be is far more rewarding and productive. In fact, your workout is probably better because it’s one based on your needs, your body type, and your goals rather than that of an actress who has nothing to do with you. If we were all supposed to look the same, we would. And how boring would that be? 

I’ve always believed that we should all live our lives with our own personal glory. We all deserve that. I’ve never been a fan of self-deprecation, because we all have one life to live, and spending it believing the lives of others are better seems like no way to live it. Don’t be envious of others, don’t believe others are “the chosen ones” or “the beautiful people” and you are not. That thought process just makes us give up on attaining things or goals that we want but then think, “Oh I could never do that” or “Oh, I could never pull that off like that person can.” We convince ourselves there is only a certain amount of success, desirability, beauty or achievement in this world and it’s all been used up by those very people that we envy. 

There’s an infinite amount of glory for all of us here on this planet, so long as we create it for ourselves. We’re unable to do that through envy or comparison.

If you feel another person’s job is more creative than your own, and it makes you miserable, realize that their achievements don’t take away from yours. Don’t focus on them, focus on you. What is causing this frustration? Should you switch jobs? Should you consider starting your own thing? Your inability to do this is not because they can, and you can’t. It’s because you are using valuable energy focusing on their haves and your have-nots. This decision is only about you.

If someone else’s natural body type is taking away from the workout routine that’s made you feel really good about yourself, realize that their body has nothing whatsoever to do with your body. You have different bodies, and Thank God you do! We as women, I think, are more guilty of this than men, so I find it interesting to think of this one thing in these terms. Think of your girlfriend group, and their varied tastes in guys. Some girls are into skinny guys in skinny jeans, and some girls love the boxier, burlier or teddy-bear type. Some girls are obsessed with a guy having a six pack…and a ton of girls couldn’t care less about that. Men can be all different types, shapes and sizes: The same thing should go for women. 

I know what you may be thinking – some of this is shot to shit when you’re feeling really good about something and someone at the dinner table compliments somebody else on that very thing. But you want to know what’s funny? No one else sees that relation besides you. When you compliment someone at the table, are you simultaneously thinking that the person next to them is lacking in whatever your compliment was? No. That doesn’t make any sense. You simply paid someone a compliment. 

We are Potatoheads, let’s all live with glory…and good food. What do you think about comparison? I’d love to hear from you! 

28 thoughts on “Why Comparison Is Misery

  1. As a writer, I think your words are spot on! I applaud the wisdom that exudes! And, I would share this on my Facebook if I could! Thank you for putting your views out there!

  2. Devotion to being good during each others needs is so helpful. Let us set our world in motion whether it be placing stars or wiping tears. Rain clouds and blue skies both exist. so instead of running away from them, look for methods to face them head on. after all we are instruments of peace.

  3. I love this article. I don’t like or appreciate being compared to others, and it’s equally irritating when for some everything is a competition. Though I’m not sure if the author knows it, the message is a Biblical one. It reminds me of one of my favorite scriptures, Galatians 6:4: “But let each one examine his own actions, and then he will have cause for rejoicing in regard to himself alone, and not in comparison with the other person.” That’s easier said than done. And sometimes—because our lives and circumstances constantly change in millions of ways large and small: family obligations, employment situations, financial challenges, health struggles, etc.—the hardest comparison to overcome is not that of myself to another person, but comparing myself to “the old me” that was younger and healthier with more time and money. Do I miss those days at times? Of course! But the secret to happiness is to learn from the past, live in the present, plan for the future. It’s impossible to be anyone except myself , and I can only occupy this time and space. I can only try to be my best self when and where I am. Striving for anything else is an exercise in frustration and futility.

  4. Oh yes! This is great food for thought. Comparison is the embodiment of lack. Here approaching Thanksgiving I am reminded not to be grateful for what I have BECAUSE another does not have it. It does not take meeting a man with no feet to appreciate that I have shoes. Happy Gratitude Day in advance

  5. I’m 55. I know these things but still to this day need to be reminded. So well written and I am forwarding to my twenty something daughters and teenage son right now. Thank you 🙂

  6. This is such a universal truth that often gets buried in the minutiae of the day to day. Comparison is the thief of joy. Usually this is the culprit when I feel anxious or stressed for no reason. The consumption of social media can also exacerbate this if you are coming from a place of comparison instead of compassion. It’s always good to step back and be more mindful of what we are consuming and how they make us feel. I try to admire and be inspired by the differences in others instead of comparing which usually goes negative pretty quick. I really enjoy this type of writing that goes beyond surface level problems. Keep these articles coming and I will keep reading!

  7. This was just the reminder I needed today. Thank you. I’m forwarding your message to the women most important to me, my daughter and my closest girlfriends.

  8. This post contains the real magic in living life successfully. Most people, not all, want to know they are something well. A compliment reinforces that. The more you give, the more you get.

  9. Thank you for this! Comparison is truly what demotivates me in everything. It stops me from doing things and when I do them, I constantly compare myself to other who seem to do it better. It does nothing but harm and although I always knew it deep inside, it’s nice to read something that’s so spot on. Thank you!

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