Apples, Oranges and Unhappiness


Jazz (apple)

How fair of a comparison are you making when you compare yourself to others? 

I coach a lot of people.  I coach them on professional issues and on occasionally on personal issues.  Based on my very limited experiences, it appears that many people will artificially create unhappiness in their lives.  They do this by comparing themselves to someone else.  I have seen people that were on top of the world compare themselves to someone else only to come to the conclusion that their life sucks.  Sometimes that transformation can happen in only a few minutes.  It has always amazed me at how destructive comparing yourself to others can be. 

Do you know anyone that engages in this sort of behavior on a regular basis?  They are people that cannot derive any joy from the success of others.  When someone else gets an award, they immediately start thinking about why it was not them that got the award.  If a co-worker buys a new car that gets a lot of attention then they are out there car shopping the next weekend.  It is very emotionally destructive behavior.  It can create financial difficulties, as well as having a tremendous impact on your ability to maintain healthy relationships.   Do you ever fall into this trap of comparing yourself to others?  I do, it does not happen often, but it will happen occasionally.  I think that understanding how useless the activity is and realizing the destructive force of this type of behavior can go a long way to helping you not fall into this trap.

One other thing that I would suggest if you find yourself starting to make unhealthy comparisons is to make comparisons with yourself.  I enjoy running and competing in triathlons.  I have been doing it for years.  The funny thing is that I am pathetically slow.  I literally have finished races after the organizers have packed up and left (but I always finish).  If I were to compare myself to other athletes, I would have gotten discouraged and quit long ago.  I don’t ever compare myself to other athletes.  Instead, I compare my performance to my own personal goals.  If I run a little faster today than I did yesterday, then I consider that a smashing success.   If I don’t run a little faster than I may not necessarily view it as a failure.  It just identifies that I may need to change how I am training.   

I certainly don’t have all of the answers in life, but I am pretty sure that comparing yourself to others will not benefit you in any way.  Yes, it may awaken your competitive spirit and you may push a little harder, but when will you ever be satisfied?  What is the point of progressing if you are never going to take a moment to appreciate where you are?

I have regularly encouraged you to seek self-improvement on this site, and I assure you that will be a topic that comes up in the future as well.  I also want to make sure that you appreciate where you are in life.  The fact that you are here on this site, reading about this particular topic leads me to believe that you have made some pretty good decisions in life.  You may not be perfect, but none of us are.  Take a moment and appreciate all that you have done and all that you have learned.

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