Improper comparison is the real thief of joy

mental health Jan 06, 2024
Improper comparison is the real thief of joy

In our modern era, many people discourage the comparison of themselves to others. The old saying is that the act of comparison will rob you of your happiness, but the reality is that improper comparison is the real thief of joy, which is what we'll be going over today.

Here are the points we'll be going over:

  • It never hurts to have a reference
  • Don't lose sight of where you're at
  • Focus on the journey, not the destination

It never hurts to have a reference

Look back at all the goals you've ever had in life. You'll notice that you had some frame of reference guiding you. In this sense, comparing yourself to someone else is a good thing if it stays as a reference and resource.

To efficiently and effectively achieve your goals, you need to be aiming in the right direction. If you require someone else as your reference point to aim at, then make use of it in that regard.

You admire that other person for a reason. They have what you want, you want what they have, and you can learn what they did to get where they did.

Where it gets toxic is when you dishearten yourself while looking up at them.

The first factor of improper comparison is when you allow yourself to be discouraged by seeing where you are compared to who you're comparing yourself to.

This is toxic because you're comparing a finished product (them) to somebody in progress (you). Of course, you won't be as far along as them, you haven't finished the journey yet.

Like any tool, comparison can be a benefit or it can be a hindrance. When used properly, it can be used to greatly accelerate your results.

Improper comparison makes you lose sight of where you are

Have you ever tried to find your way in the dark? It's kinda fun until you run into a wall. You can think of comparison in the same way. People often get so distracted by how much further they have to go that they lose sight of where they are.

If you want to make proper progress toward your goals, you need to keep your wits about yourself and stay grounded in your current life position.

Think about it like this: if you're driving and you close your eyes, don't be surprised if you crash. Can you make it to your destination still? Sure, but the chances are extremely thin.

Most people these days are driving through life with their eyes closed and are surprised when they crash. This is the second factor of improper comparison.

Instead of allowing yourself to lose your way by comparing yourself to someone else, use it as a progress tracker. Compare how far along you are to how far away they are, and you'll find that over time you are making significant progress.

When you're trying to make improvements in your life, it's normal to be discouraged at times. However, becoming discouraged through comparison is the one type that hurts so bad, it can stop you right in your tracks.

You must never lose sight of where you are on your journey. The moment you lose that sight is the moment that you compromise all your progress.

Focus on the journey, not the destination

By now, you've probably heard the saying that it's about the journey and not the destination. As much as this saying is echoed throughout society, it's very spot on. And yet, so many people are still focused on the destination.

It's good to have a goal and all, but if you make that your only focus, you are severely limiting yourself in terms of experiences and lessons. 

To begin with, comparison makes you focus on the destination because you want what others have. As with anything, too much of this is unhealthy for you.

You want enough focus on the destination that you know where you're going, but outside of that, you pay attention to the road ahead of you. Unfortunately, many people fall prey to their egos and become fixated on the destination.

The third factor of improper comparison is gunning for the destination at the expense of the journey. Yes, it's satisfying to reach your destination, but it becomes meaningless without a proper journey.

The destination doesn't teach you any lessons. The destination doesn't give you lasting satisfaction. The destination merely tells you that you made it and that this journey has reached its end.

Comparison is the thief of joy because it removes the joy of the journey. Whether this is because we go toward the destination faster or because we get discouraged, the result is still the same.

When you indulge in this type of tunnel vision, you are effectively shooting yourself in the foot. All good trips are good because of what happens on the way and during your stay; don't destroy that for yourself.

Improper comparison is a modern mental plague

Take a look at those around you and you'll find that a lot of them regularly engage in the comparison game. They are constantly sizing up everyone else against themself and tearing themselves down in the process.

Know that doing this will only bring you dissatisfaction and unhappiness. If you want to use comparison at all, at least make proper use of it.

- Karl