When I look back at little Rico, I notice a lot of unhappy and dissatisfied feelings.
These were not the dissatisfied feelings that bring the fire into a person to improve and do great things. No, these were the kind of feelings one gets from comparing oneself to another.
A few years ago, I heard an analogy that was wonderful, it was an analogy about comparing.
The Analogy was about getting rich and how unbeneficial comparing yourself to others is in order to reach that goal, or any other goal for that matter is.
The analogy went something like this:
“If one tries to get rich by comparing, it is doomed to bring a feeling of misery, and to eventually fail because of that. You start of pretty well; you earn more money than all of your friends and the people in your neighbourhood. Now you start to feel pretty confident and good about your ability to earn.
You start to earn so much that you have more than enough money to save, and you know what? After a while you decide: why not put this saved-up money in a new house? So you go out and you buy a new house, of course this is a more expensive and bigger house, but, what you find is that the more expensive and bigger house brings a new set of neighbours with it, all people who can afford it and are earning about the same as you. You start comparing yourself to them again and so you start to feel less confident in your ability to earn again, you are back to being normal. Inevitably, there is someone in your neighbourhood who is earning much more than you and so you start to compare to him and feel miserable about it. Even if at one point you succeed to out earn this person, you will meet someone who is earning more than you again, and again, and again, and again. This goes on and on and on.”
The point of this is that comparing yourself to others (which a lot of us do today with the Instagram and social media age) is doomed for unhappiness, failure and depression.
There is always someone who is doing better than you, who is more handsome than you, who has more/is better at/ is more …….. (fill in blank) than you.
With this analogy, some might consider: “Ok, but isn’t comparing bringing up the desire to do better and to improve myself? Don’t I need a standard to hold myself to? Don’t I need an image of someone that I want to outperform?”
The answer to those things is yes and no, comparing yourself to other is detrimental and can only slow down your process of improvement and development, however, having a standard to hold yourself to and a will to improve can be very positive things if they are applied in the right context.
The way to apply these things, is to apply them to yourself, to only compete against yourself. Try to be a little bit better today than you were yesterday. This is the only standard against which you can hold yourself. Only you have had the same disadvantages in life than you. Of course, you need to be a bit kind towards yourself in this process as well, don’t put the bar too high of what you want to achieve, it needs to be possible to do it the next day. baby steps are the way.
It’s about the little things which have a huge impact in the big picture.
Only compare yourself against who you were yesterday and try to be a little bit better today. This is the only sure-fire way of improvement without a tremendous amount of frustration.
As Jordan Peterson says: try to start by making your bed every day. Of course, making your bed is not a very heroic achievement, however, the intention to improve yourself everyday is.
Here is one final thought on my part, something I was always curious about: If we don’t look at other people to compare ourselves, than is there any use in looking at other people their achievements at all? The answer I found, is that there is, people their achievements don’t only show us what we think we “lack”, actually they also show us what is possible. We can start to look at other people as a source of inspiration instead of a source for envy.