Comparison is Fruitless

Treat Thompson



This is a republishing of The Steady Fella Newsletter. Twice a month readers use the timeless insights on passion, productivity, philosophy, and happiness from this newsletter to build towards the life they want.

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Comparison is an excellent recipe to kill your self-esteem.

Sometimes we compare ourselves to others over things we can't control, like height.

However, most of the time it's about something the other person is more capable of doing than us, like running a side business.

This type of comparison is destructive. It hurts our happiness and satisfaction even though we know we have enough, and it gives others influence over how we live.

This type of comparison is wrong for many reasons:

It’s an unfair game

When we compare ourselves to others we usually do it unfairly. We take someone’s best strengths and stack them up against our average or poor capabilities. You’ll always come away feeling bad doing this.

Short-term joy

Even if you do come out on top in the comparison, it’s nothing to hang your hat on. You get a short-term ego boost that can be easily knocked down when someone more capable comes around. There’s no real benefit.

External control

When you compare yourself to others you create desires and feel the need to live up to other’s standards. When this happens, you let others define your success and you lose the independence to achieve fulfillment.

Pointless resentment

After comparing yourself to someone else you may build resentment towards them for doing well. This unfounded resentment turns you against someone that could have helped you grow.

How to stop destructive comparisons:

Embrace imperfection

Intellectually we understand that no one is perfect, but emotionally we feel bad when we haven’t reached perfection. We have to remember that we can be anything but we can’t be everything.

For every strength someone has there’s going to be a weakness that makes them human.

Practice gratitude

Count your blessings and focus on what you do have. Do so whether it’s about capabilities, material possessions, or physical features you can’t control.

Play the real game

The only game that’s fair enough to play is being a better version of you. Focus on growth and beating your past self.

Not only does this give your self-esteem a break from being crushed by others, but it improves your life.

If you always want what others have you'll never have enough.

This weeks quote

Desire is suffering - Buddha

Buddhism says that suffering arises from attachment to desires. The reason is that these attachments are temporary, so loss is inevitable.

And since we often convince ourselves that attainting our desires will make us happy, we suffer because it’s temporary happiness.