Comparison is the Thief of Joy

“Comparison is the thief of Joy” is a quote that has been attributed to 100’s of people all the way back to the mid-19th century. Not always conveyed in the same way, but the sentiment being the same.

It is more true today than it has ever been.

It is well understood that the insidious algorithms of the internet tune in to our weaknesses for certain topics from the innocuous fluffy kitten pictures through to right wing conspiracy. The algorithms watch, super cookies track, they learn, databases store & share, link you to subjects, friends, areas, shopping habits, health concerns, political leanings, weaknesses to exploit. The algorithms reward your presence in their domain with gifts of information; true, untrue, it doesn’t matter, the outcome is the same – small surges of happy hormones, the feeling of belonging, of not being alone. This time we spend being pulled into this world is – at best – a waste of our precious time, but far more concerningly it twists how we perceive the world around us, resulting in a fixed mindset, unable to grow, unwilling to reason.

Social media platforms do this and more. The “social” element of social media reinforces comparison with others and the need to demonstrate to others that you are “living your best life”. It would take true strength of character not to feel a level of Schadenfreude while reading about the failures of “that guy” that you hated at school. This elevated sense of superiority and pangs of sneering delight are not conducive to good mental health. Comparison is a thief of joy.

Then there are those same people that are doing well. Again – the strength of character is strong with those who can feel happiness while glancing at carefully curated images of success awarded by the universe to those that you judged to be undeserving. Life isn’t always fair, sometimes the worst people have the fullest lives, have wealth & happiness, perhaps leaving you feeling short-changed – inferior – as you list and compare your material goods, capabilities or even ability to make the right decisions, you feel a creeping sense of regret, loss of a life not lived. Perhaps left questioning why the universe wouldn’t put you ahead. Comparison is the thief of joy.

There is no Karma. Sometimes life is unfair. Often you have little or no control over the actions of others. To think otherwise is folly, apples vs oranges. To compare and concern yourself with self imposed metrics is time wasted.

Challenge yourself not to compare your life to others. It has no benefit. There is only one person you should try to be better than – yourself. Keep striving to be fitter, healthier, more kind & compassionate, fairer, more engaged as a father and son, more caring as a husband, the best friend you can be, the supportive colleague that people remember.

Be better than yourself yesterday and enjoy how wonderful the world can be tomorrow.

by Pasty

Photo credit: TheBusyBrain