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How to avoid comparing yourself to others?

Comparisons are a source of unhappiness

One of the recurrent causes of unhappiness is often the tendency we have to compare ourselves with others. When we are dissatisfied, we look outside for reasons to feel better, simply by observing people in worse situations, we immediately feel better. In the end, this attitude amounts to rejoicing in the misfortune of others and it explains the success of certain reality shows that feature somewhat grotesque, even rude, and certainly immature individuals.

However, when we do not compare ourselves with people who are more miserable than we are, it immediately makes us more insecure and even anxious in some cases. Comparing ourselves is like ranking in a race and it is a game where we risk seeing ourselves as more miserable than we really are. Comparison is a double-edged sword, sometimes it reassures us, sometimes it knocks us out.

The need to define one’s own value system

Comparison is not bad in itself, it is rather symptomatic of a deeper problem. It ultimately reveals our lack of a foundation in terms of our values. If you are sure of the values you hold, you will not feel the need to compare yourself with others. Values act as a benchmark by which you must judge yourself. You don’t need others to know if you are going in the right direction, you just need to meditate and put your choices and actions into perspective in relation to the values you hold.

The need to first follow a path that has already been laid out

At first, when you are young and inexperienced, it is indeed convenient to follow a path that is already mapped out. In such a case, one also needs to compare oneself in a way since it is a way to learn new skills and knowledge. Comparing oneself in this case means finding inspiration in those who excel in a field. Comparison can therefore act as a catalyst in our learning.

Becoming good at something

One way to avoid comparison is often to become the best in a particular field. Since you can’t compare yourself directly with people in your field, you look for inspiration elsewhere, in different activities. It is not uncommon to find that the creative genius of a painter is attracted to the beauty of nature, or the talents of another artist (sculptor, goldsmith, etc.)

Be inspired by others even if they do different things

Instead of envying or envying people who excel in a field, it is much better to thank them, especially because they can serve as an inspiration. When you envy someone, in the end, you take on the attitude of someone who doesn’t believe they can do the same things. Conversely, the one who shows some form of gratitude towards this talented person, will have a better chance of assimilating the qualities he or she observes.

Seek joy, not pleasure

Comparison often leads to a feeling of immediate pleasure provided by the neurotransmitter dopamine. This feeling can become addictive in such a way that one seeks only to feel this superiority towards others whom one dominates. This strategy is not sustainable in the long run as it is insatiable. It is in my opinion much more effective to base one’s mental balance on something stable, namely finding joy in the realization of the values one claims to hold.

Travel to get inspired by different models

By traveling, you will realize that what matters most in other countries is not what you were focused on in your home country. Traveling allows you to learn from new models of life that serve to emancipate you from certain shackles that you may not have been aware of. Traveling challenges your certainties and sometimes they can even shatter.

Reading to expand your horizon

This is not a revelation, but it is good to remember some things. Reading allows you to discover the lives of people who have gone before you. It’s a bit like traveling, except that you travel through time. The more you read, the more you give your brain certain impressions, images that it can draw on. Then, it will recreate its own composition consciously or not. By reading, you will give yourself new models and free yourself from the barriers of time.
Follow your own path

Finally, once you have learned from others and created your own image of your future self, all you have to do is follow the path you have set for yourself. By doing this, you save yourself from endless comparisons.

To summarize:

  • Comparing yourself is both a source of suffering and ephemeral pleasure. 
If it is good to compare oneself at the beginning of one’s life to learn skills or knowledge, it is better afterwards to base one’s happiness on a set of values.
  • Then, it is good to learn to excel in a field to emancipate oneself from the allotted paths.
  • Be grateful to those who excel and use them as examples and inspiration.
  • Travelling helps to find new ways of living and new value systems.
  • It is better to seek the joy that comes from conformity to one’s values and not pleasure.
  • Reading allows us to learn from people who have gone before us and create a life according to the principles that suit us.

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