Comparing our lives to others can make us feel miserable—yet we do it anyways.
Not only does this make us feel inadequate, doing so can also stunt our personal growth. Below are some thoughts that can help you stop comparing yourself to others. While some of these points sound cliché, I try to putting them into perspective with some explanations and examples.
1. You cannot make a fair comparison
Unless you are walking in the same shoes as someone else, you cannot make a fair comparison as everyone’s struggles are unique. As well, you can’t view one element of someone else’s life in isolation. Some people may be successful in some areas but not in others. Life is a series of trade-offs in which nobody has “everything.”
2. The grass on the other side isn’t greener
Many people may seem fine on the surface, but are troubled inside. Because life isn’t a breeze. Some people are simply better at hiding their problems than others. There are many surprising cases where people have taken their own life, despite wearing a smile each day.
3. You are the author of your story
Sometimes it’s easier to follow other people’s narrative than your own. When you do this, you fail to follow your path and focus on your journey of self-discovery.
4. Your return on investment is different
I really like Gary Vaynerchuk’s post on “Why Social Media ROI Is Like Playing the Piano.” He explains how the return on investment (ROI) for a piano is zero dollars for him, but about $400 million dollars for Elton John. Why is this? It’s because if you want to invest in something, it should be something you’re passionate about. For instance, while blockchain and cryptocurrency are the latest trend, I rather invest my time with my creative projects than concern myself with crypto.
5. Success is the tip of the iceberg
We’re inundated with success stories on the internet and social media, but rarely do you hear about the mundane and laborious aspects of success. For example, James Dyson made 5,162 failed prototypes before inventing the bagless vacuum cleaner. It took 52 tries for software maker Rovio to get Angry Birds right. And Richard Branson was an amateur bird breeder and arborist before becoming the billionaire founder of the Virgin Group. As Thomas Edison puts, “Genius is 1% inspiration, 99% perspiration.” So before you compare yourself to successful people, think about all the risks they took and the efforts they’ve made to achieve their goals.
6. Life is too serious to be taken seriously
Sometimes it’s best to laugh at how silly life can be. It makes you wonder why people are obsessed with certain things that seem so trivial in hindsight. Because in the end, it doesn’t matter if you weren’t the popular kid in school or the person with the enviable feathered eyebrows on Instagram; what matters is that you can find humor and joy along the way.
7. “Success” is overrated
The truth is, most people will not be the founder of a successful startup or launch a rocket ship. And that’s okay. By comparing yourself to others, you stop paying attention to the small things in life that makes life worth living, like rubbing your pet’s belly, eating a nice gelato and connecting with other people.
8. You are your only competition
When you compare yourself to others, there will always be someone “better,” no matter how accomplished you are. Instead, focus on becoming the best version of yourself. That way, you can set realistic expectations when it comes to improving.
9. Failure can be a good thing
Failure simplifies and eliminates excess noise. It can help us focus on the things that matter most to us. J.K. Rowling gave a profound speech at Harvard University on the benefits of failure. She says, “Failure meant a stripping away of the inessential. I stopped pretending to myself that I was anything other than what I was, and began to direct all my energy into finishing the only work that mattered to me.”
10. It’s okay to be lost
Even though some people seem to have it everything figured out, they don’t. Because life is a journey, not a destination. It’s perfectly fine to be lost. In fact, being lost gives you a chance to discover who you are.