Comparison

 

Let’s talk about the most amazing and fun game you can ever play.

First. Let’s go over some of the rules:​

It’s a game you cannot win. No one ever has and no one ever will.

Actually, the only possible outcome of this game is:

Pain, heartache, disappointment, and a massive case of “less-than-itis” (also known as “God! whyyyy do I suck so badly?)”

It’s a game where there’s nothing at all positive to be gained, and everyone loses.

Doesn’t it sound like fun? No? NO! Of course not. It sounds awful. Who would ever want to play a game like that, right?

Well the game that I’m talking about is: comparing yourself to others, and we ALL do it.

OK. So here’s a perfect example of how a lot of us play the comparison game on a daily basis. Without even realizing we’re doing it.

How many times a day do you check your Facebook newsfeed or your Twitter or Instagram? Once? Five times. Twenty?​

Adweek quoted a study from earlier this year where they found:

the average time people spent DAILY on youtube, facebook, snapchat, instagram and twitter was almost two hours a day. So chances are you’re checking this stuff all the time

Ok. So you probably find yourself scrolling through Instagram – seeing some people with the most incredible relationships and with the most incredible bodies on the most incredible vacations.

Maybe you see pictures of them sitting on an airplane. Smiling the most incredible smiles. First class airline tickets and so you just naturally assume they live first class lives.​

See, back in the day, “keeping up with the Joneses” used to be the people in our villages. So you were comparing yourself to a couple of dozen other people. Over time, larger cities, newspapers, magazines, and TV expanded the pool of who we were comparing ourselves to.​

Well now in our hyper-connected, speed-of-light, internet lives, the Joneses have done gone international, instantaneous, and instagrammable.

So now you’re no longer just keeping up with the Joneses, you’re keeping up with the Kardashians (sorry, couldn’t resist)….

…you’re keeping up with the Hollywood actors, the tech billionaires, and that person in high school you never liked and were always just a little jealous of, but for some reason now you can’t stop stalking their news feed to see all the amazing things they’re doing.

There’s something called Social Comparison Theory, and the idea behind it is that we’re constantly evaluating our own personal and social worth versus how we compare to others.

We then make judgments about the quality of our lives based on these comparisons.

Now, there’s two ways to compare – two directions- upwards, those that we think have more- more looks, more smarts, more money, more whatever. And downward – those that we think have less.

Comparing downward makes us feel better. It’s why when someone famous in our culture who has it all and falls from grace – think Tiger Woods, Britney Spears, Lindsay Lohan – we can’t look away. Oh look! Gossip! Scandal! They have problems too, just like me – YAY!

Comparing upwards? Not so much in terms of how it makes us feel.

Social media platforms are ALL. ABOUT. upward comparison.

photo credit: mmuffin for Metro.co.uk

Understand that when you’re scrolling through Instagram or Facebook, you’re generally looking at people’s bests. Their filtered, best-of-20-takes-lives.

And you’re comparing their bests to your worsts. And how does that make you feel? Pretty shitty sometimes, right? Inferior?

Maybe you start feeling the old 3 W’s and an M:

-What’s wrong with me?

-Why don’t I have this?

-Why can’t I do these things?

-Why don’t I look like this?

OH! Another rule of the game I forgot to add – you need to take YOUR absolute worsts and match them up with someone’s absolute bests. I told you- nobody wins this game.

See, if you’re playing this upward comparison game, you don’t see (or you’re not paying attention) to people posting pictures of the bad shit. The boring. The mundane. The day to day. The shit that makes up so much of our lives

Comparison is the Thief of Joy

-President Theodore Roosevelt 

Those words were famously said by Teddy Roosevelt. It’s my favorite quote of all time, and I think a lot of us need to hear it more than ever these days. Words to live by right there. Comparison..is the thief of joy.

Listen- if you’re playing the comparison game a little too much, this is a fact of life that you may want to finally come to grips with and accept- no matter who you are, there will ALWAYS be someone richer, better looking, with a better body, a better job, more money, better relationships, a nicer home, a more expensive car. Whatever.

And while we’re at it, who’s the one that says what he or she has is better?​

How do you know that whatever it is you think that person is or has – how do you know that person isn’t just like you?

Quick story about this- I went to a great workshop in January ran by this dude Chris Winfield. Really cool guy. Anyhow, as soon as I walked in, what game do you think I started playing?

Right. The comparison game. When I got there and scanned the room, the first thing I realized was how there were so many more “successful” people there than me, and that was a little intimidating at first.

Actually I should clarify that- I guess it depends on what your definition of success is right? I should say -there were people there that are making a lot more money than me.

There were best selling author’s, seven-figure coaches, marketers, and bloggers, superstar copywriters, some people that I really look up to- but after going thru some exercises with the group the one thing that was apparent was this- we all literally had the same exact problems. Didn’t matter how much money someone made, who they were, where they lived – I learned everyone in that room had more in common than not.

And it wasn’t until I started to focus on THOSE things- what we all had in common, that I began to feel better about myself, get way more comfortable, and had way more fun

ANYHOW – another pitfall with always comparing yourself to others, is that in reality you have NO. IDEA- what you’re comparing. Because how something appears to YOU on the outside, is rarely as it actually is.

You make assumptions based on your own life and project that onto others.

Case in point – Robin Williams. Kurt Cobain. Ernest Hemingway. Alexander Mcqueen. Just recently Chris Cornell. To the outside world those people seemed to have everything you THINK anyone could ever want right?

Well those people were in so much pain that they took their own lives. You NEVER know what’s actually going on inside someone else’s head and inside their life.

So, if it’s human nature to compare, but it’s a game we cannot win (especially in this day and age), what should we do?

#1  DECIDE to accept you cannot win. Right the fuck now.

#2 APPRECIATE what you have in your life right now

You can focus on what you THINK others have, or you can focus on all YOU have right now. Because REMEMBER – while you’re worrying about someone else’s lawn, your own grass is dying.

#3 Accept as a fact of life that you will never be perfect

You will never be “finished”. There is no finish line. So don’t run the race of life because you feel the need to be faster than everyone. Run because you can. Run because it’s joyous.

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