01 Jul 2015
There was a time when comparisons were an integral part of my life. In school, college and even later years, it was like a compulsive habit– you needed to apply some yardstick to quantify where you fitted into the scheme of things. Were you better at mathematical problem-solving than person ‘x’? Did you need to polish your public speaking skills to be as good as ‘y’? Why did ‘a’ get more marks than you in a subject you excelled at? How does ‘b’ manage to organise such amazing get-togethers? Who among your friend circle had the best sense of style? Those were unending comparisons on infinite parameters to an infinite number of people. The justification was that you needed to look up at those better than you to improve yourself and sometimes to compare yourself to those worse off to feel blessed and grateful for what you have. The first was supposed to provide valuable motivation for personal growth, the second reasons for inculcating a sense of gratitude.
Somewhere the realisation began to dawn that this was a dangerous trap…either way you land up in a battle you can never win. The upward-comparisons may actually leave you feeling inadequate and envious, leading to low self esteem and even resentment. The downward-comparisons make you judgemental and feed an unhealthy feeling of being superior. Neither leads to any personal growth or contributes to your happiness or sense of fulfilment. The reason being all comparisons are to an extent unfair…Oscar Wilde rightly called them ‘odious.’ The fact is what you see in others is an edited version of their reality so in your comparisons you are using incomplete information and generally filling in the gaps with over or under estimations.
To really add meaning to life you don’t need to benchmark your worth against someone else. Just upgrade your own self and try to be a better version of what you were yesterday. Yes you learn from the knowledge and talents of others but instead of wasting your time and effort trying to be as good or better than them, focus your energy on being a better you. If you learn to appreciate your own place in life and seek to understand others instead of judging them, you will let go of comparisons, for then, they will become unnecessary.