I say to my friend on the treadmill beside me,“Hey Im doing pretty good on the treadmill today, over 2 miles and 212 calories burned.” And then it happens! Miss perfect young body gets on the treadmill next to me and cranks it up to highest incline, and some ungodly high mph number, and works on some sort of puzzle on her Kindle, all without audibly panting as she sails along. I now feel deflated and decidedly less impressed with myself. The trap of comparison in action. I can do this, but someone else can do it better, or their house or car is much nicer than mine; or the reverse, I am so much better than someone else at A,B and C, or my car is a lot nicer. Doesn’t really matter which way the comparison turns out, either way my experience is reduced to better than, or less than. Comparison is a trap and a thief. Constant judgement steals the now. So why on earth is it so hard for me to let go of comparing myself to others?
We humans like to measure things. We start by asking our child “ How much does Mommy love you?” and we spread our hands wide and say “This much.” We are taught more is better. We “Keep up with the Joneses”, trying to prove that we are as good as other people by getting what they have and doing what they do, even when we can’t afford to.We cringe at the saying ‘He who has the most toys wins.”, because we know we believe this on some level. I ask myself “How am I doing?” or “How am I measuring up.” more often than I’d like to admit. The problem is I become an observer of my own life rather than living and experiencing my life. I’m afraid I won’t be successful if I stop comparing myself to others, and my safety and well being depend on knowing how others are doing. Lately I’m beginning to think the opposite may be true, and it is the comparison that keeps me from success, safety and well being.
As I age I get to compare how much older or younger I am than someone else. If I were only measuring years, and not trying to define myself by my age, that would be one thing, but I slip into “younger is better” in a heartbeat if I don’t pay attention. We tell some people they don’t look their age and that’s seen as a positive, but what about those of us who look our age? Does it matter? Perhaps it matters only in the world of on-line dating! Am I a winner or a loser? What if I just don’t care?
“Comparison is the thief of joy .” Theodore Roosevelt
“Don’t compare your life to others. There’s no comparison between the sun and the moon. They shine when it is their time.”