I don’t know about you, but I sometimes find myself looking at other people and comparing my own life to theirs. Whether it’s material objects like houses and cars, or more intangible things like friendships and careers, human beings have a tendency to want to ‘win’. We can value our own life depending on how it stacks up in comparison to others.
Smart phones and constant internet access have made it especially hard to avoid seeing the ‘best bits’ of other people’s lives. With a quick scroll through our news feed we can see what everyone we’ve ever known is doing, achieving and eating. We can find ourselves subconsciously comparing our holidays, friendships and even CVs with friends and distant acquaintances.
But by comparing ourselves like this we miss out on so much. Jaime Thurston of 52Lives says, “Deciding we’re better or worse than someone isn’t being kind to ourselves or to the people we’re comparing ourselves with.” Kindness: the little thing that matters most
Research shows that when we compare ourselves to others it leaves us feeling unhappy and unfulfilled. It’s also important to realise that we often only see the external part of people’s lives. We may have no idea what is really going on for a friend who appears to ‘have it all together’. Sometimes jealousy or judgement can stop us reaching out to love and support those around us.
I have found that the antidote to unhelpful comparison is taking time to be thankful for my own life. It’s amazing how a few moments reflecting on the good things, however small, can change how we feel. It’s much better than making ourselves miserable by focusing on how someone else’s life is better or worse than our own. This week, why not try thankfulness as a way out of the spiral of comparison?