In the first grade when I still had aspirations to make cartoons for a living – I would look to Zak a desk over and grudgingly awe at his brilliant works of art.
My stick men no longer looked as compelling as I thought.
This was the first time I could remember comparing myself to others.
Twelve years later on my first day of university I walked into a room with about fifteen other students from all different walks of life. These guys were my classmates for the next three years.
But more importantly – they were my competition.
I had no idea who they were or what their dreams and desires had been, but I knew that I would be comparing myself to them for a long time to come.
When my wife started making money from her third business, after a string of awesome failures – I couldn’t help but compare my income to hers.
Just last week I found myself talking to an old friend where we quickly exchanged formalities and immediately transitioned into discussing what all of our friends in common were up to. We were comparing ourselves to them.
I’ve seen dozens of articles on the internet about how it’s not a good thing to compare yourself to others, that no good can come out of it – that it’s a cruel and brutal thing to do to yourself… but the fact is that it’s actually normal.
And to be honest – I don’t necessarily think that it’s a bad thing.
In fact, the right dosage with good intentions can actually be healthy.
Personal growth in all areas of your life (spiritually, mentally, financially) is a vital element to your happiness. A lack of growth might not kill you physically, but it is definitely the fastest way to destroy your dreams and ambitions.
After all, if you’re not growing – then what’s there to look forward to?
And when you compare yourself to others – it gives you the rare opportunity to seek out what is actually possible for you to accomplish in this life.
If they were able to do it, then why can’t you?
You see, the good man with strong moral values and honest intentions would compare himself to someone who is more successful than he is and say:
‘Man, Jon’s really got life figured out. But then again, he dedicated most of his life to his craft. He really deserves his success. In fact, he probably deserves better. I guess this is the inspiration I need to raise my standards. I’ll dedicate more time to my own craft as well. I want to be just as successful as Jon.’
And this is a powerful statement that one can make.
A statement that has the potential to change the course of his entire life… all because he decided to compare himself in a way that was a real benefit to him.
It’s all too easy to say:
‘Oh, look at Jon and his new found success. He doesn’t deserve a dime! Just a year ago he was asking me for money. He’s forgotten his roots. Where he came from. I deserve more than he does. Life is just not fair!'
But how will that serve you?
How will it make your life better?
Comparing yourself to others is only a cruel thing to do if your intentions are skewed. A good example of this is the example of money.
Most people that I’ve known believe that too much money will end up corrupting a person. They say that anyone who becomes wealthy would eventually forget where they came from, lose their family, and care about nothing else but money. And this couldn’t be any more wrong, simply because the fact is that the money itself is not the problem.
The problem is the person you give the money to.
Give a hard working man or woman who holds on firmly to strong morals and pure intentions a million bucks and they will do amazing things with it.
There’s no doubt about it.
The more money you have, the more good you can do in this world and the more people you can help (there are way too many people who need our help).
But give the same amount to someone who is irresponsible and couldn’t care about anyone else but themselves, and the money would go to wrong use.
And it’s the same with comparing yourself to others.
The honest man would use it as a way to aspire to greater things, and the corrupt individual would find reasons to tear others apart.
So if you find yourself left with a bitter taste in your mouth every time you compare yourself to someone more successful than you are...
... here’s what you can do instead.
First, always immediately compare yourself to someone who has less than you, because let’s be honest – there will always be someone who has got it worse.
This will allow you to be at peace with your current situation, as well as empower you to actually appreciate and give thanks for all the things you have.
And appreciating the things you have (even if it’s not much) is an awesome trait to conquer. This alone will change your life and give you happiness in more ways than you could ever imagine.
Next, you need to understand that the person you are comparing yourself to actually deserves the success that they have. They put in the necessary work to get there. So you need to really be honest with yourself and ask:
Do I really deserve to be where they are?
Have I put in all the work?
If the answer is no – then you need to simply use their story, their success… as the inspiration you need to work harder and achieve more in this life.
If you don’t know where to start, then it’s not an insane idea to reach out to that person or anyone else more successful than you are and to ask for advice – then to simply model the same approach that they took.
But whatever you do… you really need to put in the work.
It’s sad to see so many remarkable individuals with so much potential using these forms of comparison as a way to bring down others, when this fierce passion and energy could be used as real way to benefit their own lives…
So my question to you is this:
How often do you compare yourself to others?
Others who might look better than you, have more money than you, a better education that you, a bigger Instagram following than you – and perhaps even more resources and connections than you will ever have.
And what purpose are you letting this serve in your life?
Are you using it as a way to form excuses about your situation and embark on a journey of self-pity and self-destruction.
Or is it the fuel you need to raise your standards and seek better things?
The chances are you will never stop comparing yourself to others.
Even I will never stop comparing myself to others.
So why don’t we… just… make… the… best… out of it instead?