You Will Never Be Happy If You Compare This Way

Jordan Brown

You see someone walking down the street.

All of a sudden, your eyes latch onto the coat that they are wearing.

“That looks nice. I wonder where they got that? How could they afford that? I would look better in a coat like that!”

And so it begins — the negative comparison loop.

What starts as one thought turns into another. And another.

It’s a slippery slope.

There’s a way out, but it requires you to go against your natural instincts.

When You Compare, Beware…

It’s so tempting. You think you can get away with it at first.

You’re only going to compare a little bit. You tell yourself that it’s only a healthy dose of competition. Wanting to be better than someone else never hurt anyone.

It may not have hurt anyone else, but it’s hurting you. Because something sinister happens when you compare yourself with someone else. You enter a no-win situation. You start to roll down the steep hill of comparison and into the negative comparison loop.

This is the problem that occurs when you compare.

When you compare yourself to someone else, you place your fate in their hands, exactly where you do not want it to be. Because you have no control over what others do or say. Even with your close family and friends — you can’t control them.

And this is the root of unhappiness, when we think we have control when we actually have none. When you aim to control another, you base your happiness on something completely random. With a roll of the die, you relinquish all power that you have.

She might be your best friend, but she lives according to her own free will. He may be your father, but it is not his responsibility to do what makes you happy.

This is life, and it’s a crushing blow to the ego.

So What Do You Compare Yourself To?

There’s only one answer. You compare yourself…to yourself.

You knew that was coming, didn’t you?

Because this is something that you can control. You have the odds that will beat the house, and that’s saying something.

You ran .5 miles yesterday, and it whooped your butt. But you know what? If you come up with the right plan of attack, I bet you could run more than .5 miles in the not-too-distant future!

So the title of this issue is a bit of a lie. You can be happy if you compare, you just need to do the right kinds of comparisons. When you focus on comparisons that are within your control, you escape the negative comparison loop. It’s the difference between a beautiful, open meadow and a claustrophobic comparison closet.

Instead of comparing your career to your friend’s career, think about what you actually want in life. Do you even want the same career as your friend, or would you rather create one of your own?

Instead of comparing your bank account to your brother’s, think about the kind of life you want to live. Do you even need as much money as him to be happy? What if you would rather travel the world and not pay a mortgage? You might be able to do that for less money than your brother pays to keep his “typical” life afloat. It’s all about your perspective.

Focus on Good Comparisons

Hey, you’ve learned something! You know that there are good comparisons and bad comparisons. If you focus on the bad comparisons-the ones that are outside of your control — you will never be happy.

But if you place your chips down on your own life, you’ll put the odds in your favor. After all, it’s the only thing you can control. Stay within your sphere of influence. Focus on what you can control.

Compare past you to future you. That’s a friendly battle. That’s something that will improve your life in the long run.