There will always be someone with more than you – someone who is better than you are at a skill you’re passionate about, who is better looking, who has more money or “stuff,” who is more successful. It’s also safe to say that when we’re faced with these people who seem to be so much luckier than we are, many of us feel inferior or even short-changed. We’re often told not to focus on what we don’t have and, instead, to be grateful for the things we do. But I’m inclined to agree with Mark Twain who once said, “Comparison is the death of joy.”
This isn’t really a stretch of the imagination – You look at your neighbor’s gorgeous home and think yours is small and run-down. You might meet a person who’s in incredible shape and feel bad about your own body or fitness level. You learn that your friend from college is excelling in an interesting job and think that your own career is flat. Bam… It’s a buzz kill.
Here’s the problem: If you’re walking on the path of life and are busy obsessing about other people who are farther ahead of you, or that have nicer walking shoes to wear on the trip, you’re setting yourself up for disappointment. You’re also not going to enjoy your own journey very much. It’s a bad idea to compare yourself to others, because you have absolutely no idea what their circumstances are. That person up ahead of you may have trampled a dozen other people to get there. You can’t tell who got a head start any more than you can point out the people who might be compensating because they have pebbles in their shoes. What’s more, some of the people you perceive as “ahead of you” may be sprinters who aren’t going to get far, while you’re hard-wired for long distance.
Instead of worrying about what everyone else has and how far along they are, think about your life in terms of your own personal development. What advancements have you made this year, this month, today? How has your life improved? What obstacles have you overcome? How have you grown? That’s what really matters. Think about where you want to be in your own life and take the necessary steps to get there, one step at a time. Most of all, enjoy the process as your own. While making your way on the path enjoy the scenery, learn from the successes of others, and keep moving forward, comparing yourself to no one but you.