Yesterday I returned from a short but wonderful family vacation. It was on that vacation, sitting at the pool, that I started to think about how comparing oneself to others just leads to misery. It is such a waste of time but we all do it every single day. We do this on social media, in conversations about our children with a friend, and with ourselves as we strive to fend off our age. I believe we are faced with the temptation to judge ourselves and others on a daily basis.
The word “comparison” has been on my mind lately as I write posts for my blog and as I submit posts to be published on other sites (more rejections than approvals). I’m slowly learning that being a writer is not for the faint hearted. There are so many wonderful writers, moms, photographers, athletes, fashionistas, and artists that it’s easy to start comparing yourself and wondering if you’re good enough. You can quickly fall down the rabbit hole if you focus on the achievements of others rather than your own. The danger is that instead of doing what you love and just doing your best, you start measuring yourself against others. News flash! We all have our strengths and weaknesses. “Comparison is the thief of joy” said Theodore Roosevelt, and he couldn’t be more correct.
We see this thief in our lives every single day. The truth is that in order for this thief of joy to be effective, we have to invite him in. It’s time to slam the door in his face. I’m halfway through this thing called life and I think it’s time to stop worrying about stupid and meaningless things. In the end, we all wind up in the same place.
Then there are times when we can be that thief to others. I learned this lesson the hard way when a very old and dear friend expressed anger over my Facebook posts. I had just returned from a trip to Sweden and posted pictures of my new cottage. She was going through a very traumatic and difficult time. The last thing she wanted to hear was how perfect my life was. No one’s life is perfect. Social media is a twisted little maze.
After one too many pictures she decided to unfriend me. I was hurt and confused and confronted her. A very difficult conversation ensued and I realized that because we usually all post only the good on Facebook, there is a fine line between sharing and encouraging comparison. Was I responsible for her pain? Perhaps not completely….but because I cared about her I started to look at my posts more closely and started using Facebook just a bit differently. When does Facebook become Facebrag? It’s a very thin line. She and I eventually reconnected and perhaps she still gets annoyed by me now and then, but she makes me want to be more honest and considerate in my interactions with others.
Think about this for a second. In the past week, when did you feel the most joy? My bet is that it wasn’t when you were on social media. Maybe it was after you created or achieved something. Perhaps it was when you played with your child or grandchild. How about when you were just kind to yourself or when you extended kindness to someone else? I feel joy when I just feel gratitude for this wonderful and short life of mine. I also find tons of joy in the simple things. This past week I found it when jumping up and down in the pool like a lunatic surrounded by my family. THIS is living.
Comparing oneself to others is a normal human response. Minimizing this in my own life will be my goal. Want to join me? What makes you happy? DO THAT. Let’s incorporate a daily process of putting our energy towards ourselves, our family and our close friends. Focus on making your life all that you want it to be.
Here’s to slamming the door.