The comparison game. More fashion, more vacations, more money; it never stops. At first glance, comparison can seem harmless or even healthy. After all, shouldn't we all know how we measure up to others? But you should never compare yourself to others, it is invisibly exhausting. After all, running in this race means having first place one minute and coming in last in the next.
The newest Apple Watch, the purse of the season, the job with the corner office - comparison has high stakes that can leave you drained and unhappy. But if you've chosen to compare, that means you can also opt out. What happens then? Find out the six reasons why you should never compare yourself to others and what to do instead.
6 Reasons why you should never compare yourself to others
We've all heard it's bad for us, but why is that? After all, if you're not looking at what others have, how do you know if you're successful? Isn't it better to see where you stand? The answer is no!
Knowing how well we are doing compared to other people isn't helpful at all. Let's find out what comparison can actually do to your health and life and why you are better off without it.
1. Enough isn't enough
One almost guaranteed thing is this: enough isn't actually enough. It's pretty common to say, "If I just had (fill in the blank), I'd be happy." But if you do acquire that item, job, opportunity, or whatever, you soon get used to it and want more. People, especially when we feel competitive, like becoming better and better and acquiring more things. That means that we are rarely satisfied with what we have.
If we see someone who has something better, suddenly the things we have just don't seem good enough. The problem with this cycle is that it doesn't end. When we compare, we are forever searching for more.
2. You may feel unhappy
Comparison is a liar. It tells you that you will be happy if you compare and then get what others have. But often, it's the opposite. The higher we climb on the comparison ladder, the unhappier we may feel. Have you ever met someone who seems to have it all yet is still not enjoying their life? This could be the result of comparison.
So instead of thinking about what others have, removing this from your mind entirely can help you feel a lot better. Just the one action of choosing to stop comparing may change your mood and perspective.
It has even been suggested that comparison makes our lives more stressful and can affect our relationships, according to Elizabeth Scott, Ph.D. of Very Well Mind. Why bring more overwhelm to an already overloaded schedule and multiple commitments? Added stress has no place in our lives. You will feel much happier if you do not compare yourself with others.
3. Everyone is different
The idea of wanting everything that others have, or more than they have, is actually pretty silly. Why? Because everyone is different! All of us have talents, different salaries, and personalities. We are all unique, but we try very hard to be the same, rather than embrace that.
For example, it may be hard not to compare if a friend is constantly buying the newest phone model, and you've had the same one for over a year. But then you might realize this friend has a high salary and works hard to stay out of debt.
Upon recognizing that you are both different, comparison suddenly doesn't look so good because you can't compare what isn't the same. So rather than looking at what she has, try looking at your own life and the unique things you bring to the table.
4. You may be comparing yourself to something fake
So…when was the last time you took a photo of yourself for Instagram with no makeup, hair not done, wearing a hoodie and sweatpants, surrounded by a messy house? Probably never, right?
Guess what? Everyone else on social media also only puts the best versions of themselves online. What you are comparing yourself to may be someone's best day, not their worst, or it might be completely fake.
Since we don't always know what's real and what isn't with social media, we can't make an accurate comparison. So why start? It's okay to not compare a typical day in your life to a photo that someone spent twenty minutes editing. So do not compare yourself with others that could be "filtering" their real life.
5. You can miss out on what you can bring to the world
What's another reason why you should never compare yourself to others? There is no one out there who is exactly like you. Suppose you are busy comparing and trying to be like everyone else. In that case, you won't bring your unique perspective and ideas to the world.
People won't have a chance to get to know the real you! And there are things that you can contribute at work and at home, for others and yourself, that you may miss if you are thinking about not having what someone else has.
Rather than getting stuck thinking about how you measure up, enjoy who you are. Think about what you can do for other people and what kind of person you want to be. Focus on that instead of what anyone else is doing. If we all think about how we can help others and be our best selves, the world can get a lot better really fast.
6. Comparison can cause you not to see the good things in your life
Comparing our lives to others makes it challenging to see the good things we already have. If you focus on how great someone else's life is, you may not be able to look around and see that you have good friends, a loving family, a job you like, a talent for piano, or whatever else makes you unique.
As an exercise to help with this, try going about your day and noticing each good thing in your life. For example, living in a home you love, enjoying a short commute to work, or appreciating that you have the weekend off. These are all good things that you don't want to miss or take for granted.
What to do instead of comparing yourself to others
So, what can you do instead if you no longer want to waste time on comparison or feeling envious of others? There are many ways to never compare yourself to others and stay optimistic about your own life.
Be grateful for what you have
If you feel thankful for the things you have, you won't have much time left for comparing. Gratefulness is a habit, and it can take a while to make it part of your life. Start by thinking about what you have whenever you are tempted to compare.
For example, "Well, so and so might have a brand new wardrobe, but even if I don't have that, I'm grateful to have a home and a family I love." Over time, remembering to be grateful will become part of your everyday life and change the way you think.
If you aren't sure how to begin with gratitude, Mindful has a great article about how to get started, including journaling tips and talking with others.
Be excited about your own life
It's hard to be excited about your own life when you are always looking at someone else's. It's better if you do not compare yourself with others, and instead, be excited about your own life. Give yourself permission to be happy about the things you get to do and the experiences you have.
Be enthusiastic about that used car you just bought, purchasing your first home, throwing a birthday party for a friend, or signing up for a marathon. The more you look for reasons to be happy with your own life, the more things you will notice that bring you joy.
Next time you hear about someone's exotic vacation to a tropical island, or their fantastic job, try this: Say to yourself, "Good for them. But for me, I'm excited about (add in an upcoming event, a new hobby, or something else that you are looking forward to)." It's possible to be happy for others' success while also adding to your own.
Escape social media
While social media has a few benefits, it's where most comparison seems to take place. Taking a break can be highly beneficial and help change your perspective drastically. One of the best ways to not compare yourself to others is to simply not know what others are doing every minute of the day.
Try out something small at first, like one day without social media. Try a more extended period, like a week, if that goes well. Check out our post on how to do a social media detox!
Appreciate the ordinary
Appreciating the simple things in life is underrated. That first cup of coffee in the morning, a walk outside, an evening out with friends - these are all ordinary things. Still, if you take the time to really enjoy them, you may find comparison disappears.
No matter what your day looks like, spend time looking for the small, ordinary things that make you happy and cause you to enjoy your life more. You can do this in a lot of ways, and the more you appreciate, the less you compare.
Make financial plans for yourself
This is a fun way to move beyond comparison because it's practical. Rather than thinking about the wealth of others or the things they own, make financial plans for yourself. The comparison stops when you focus on what you can do and not on what others are doing. Here are a few examples of financial plans you can make:
Set a big financial goal for the year
One way to do this is to decide on a big financial goal for the year - something achievable but big enough for you to feel amazing when you complete it. You might choose to save up a big emergency fund, make a down payment on a house, take a vacation without any debt, or anything else motivating to you. Break your year-long goal down into months to make it simple to achieve.
Get out of debt
Another thing that can be very rewarding is to pay off debt. Make a commitment to yourself that you will be debt-free within a specific time frame, like two or three years. Then work hard to make this happen by budgeting, saving a lot, or working extra hours.
Create long-term financial plans
You might also decide to make a financial plan for yourself for the next year, five years, or even the next decade. If you choose to make a long-term plan, it can help you stay focused and make sure your money is spent intentionally.
These financial plans can help you be the person you want to be, with goals that are right for you. Never compare yourself to others by thinking about your own finances and not other people's. After all, you have your own path in life, and you likely don't want the same things as the next person, anyway.
Each person has ideas for what to do with their money and savings, but we are all unique in what we want.
Set goals for yourself
Goals are an excellent method for being happy with yourself and your own life. There are so many different goals you can set. You might try focusing on one part of your life at a time, or maybe you'll have several goals at once. Here are some common ones, but you can focus on whatever you want.
Fitness goals are very popular, and they are healthy! You might make a goal of walking 10,000 steps a day, consistently going to spin class, or running in a marathon. Pick a fitness goal that will be fun and help you be healthy.
Travel goals are interesting, and they are an exciting way to break free from routine. Make it your goal to visit five different cities in the next year. Or, if you want to stay local, make it a plan to experience as much as you can in your own state. Travel is fun and keeps your mind in the present, which is great for avoiding comparison.
Set a goal to learn something. Whether that's a new language, a new hobby, or taking a course in a subject that interests you, give yourself something to work towards. That way, whenever you are tempted to compare, you can think about your learning goals instead.
Be happy for others
Comparison makes us jealous, unhappy, and sometimes unpleasant. Instead of wanting to have what someone else has, why not be happy for them? If someone you know gets a promotion, gets married, or buys a new car, be happy about the joy that brings them.
Focusing on being kind is a great way to stop playing the comparison game, not to mention it will make you feel a lot better about life! Next time you feel jealous of someone else, give it a try and see how your attitude shifts.
So when someone seems to have it all, don't view it as a failure on your part. Think about how that person probably worked really hard for what they have, and it's good for them to be successful.
Then remember that you are also doing a great job with your career, family, and life. And someone else having something good doesn't mean that what you have is not good, too.
Discover the things that are unique about you and focus on that
Everyone is their own person, so think about what makes you unique. Are you a great artist? A talented wardrobe curator? A good soccer player? Seek to better your own skills and think about what you can do well. There are things you can contribute to the world in a way that no one else can, and it's important to realize that.
If you spend time learning what you are great at or what you enjoy, you will be a lot happier. And when you are happy, you are more likely to encourage others to be their best selves, too.
Never compare yourself to others and live a happier life
It's all pretty straightforward. Once you learn to never compare yourself to others, your life will change. You may feel that weight has been lifted off of you, and you could end up a lot happier and more grateful. We are all unique, and the worst way to try to gain success is to bring others down or think that we somehow aren't good enough.
On the opposite side, a great way to have more joy and peace is to encourage other people and focus on your own goals. That way, everyone wins. No comparison = the chance for you (and others) to help each other and enjoy more happiness in life. So give it a try. Do not compare yourself with others, and watch how much better life becomes.