Ah yes, the classic habit we just can’t kick. Most people try not to do it, but why? After all, the underlying motive is not that bad: we ultimately want to better ourselves. Any wise person knows, however, that there is never just one way to achieve something, and that some ways can be better than others. Comparing yourself to other people excessively can have consequences for your self-esteem, happiness and confidence – three things which are far more important in life than being better than someone else.

Photo by Tim Gouw on Unsplash

Why do we do it?

Humans are classically social beings and have gained so many evolutionary advantages over other physically larger and/or stronger creatures by being socially intelligent. In other words, it is in fact in our own nature to watch what others do very carefully. One might postulate that’s all well and good for everyone, if all we are doing is learning from each other and improving ourselves to survive. This would be true, if it were not for every living being’s inherent perspective on what life itself really is: a competition.

Most of us see life as a contest with ostensibly dichotomous outcomes – where one succeeds/wins, another must fail/lose. The principle is simple, we are fighting over our limited resources on this planet (nowadays not directly, but over the means to get those resources, e.g. a well-paying job.) Therefore to succeed, one simply must have a substantial advantage over their peers, and the only way to know is to compare. Consequently, this leads us on to a never-ending path of questioning whether life is truly fair – a lot of what we have isn’t down to us. Add in the contemporary issue of social media, and you have an aggravated situation. The gaps in privilege between all of us have never been more transparent and discernible than they are today.

No matter how much you have been told not to compare yourself to others, I am sure it has been hard to do. Even if I could read everyone’s mind, knew what kind of hardships they went through and even experienced them myself, there are times where I just can’t help but wonder: why can’t I have what they have?

How do we manage it?

You need to know that life is not really a competition or some kind of race between you and everyone else. Remember when I said that humans are socially intelligent? The true reason as to why we are so successful today is because of how well we work together. The truth is that we can all win. The fastest way to get there is if we can all become the best version of ourselves, which is something that every individual controls for themselves.

Try to be aware of when you are comparing yourself to others and question why you are doing it. If you are doing it to learn from them, then that’s great, but just know that you can’t control what other people have or what they inherited. Instead of comparing yourself with that person, try bringing in a different person to compare with. In reality, life can be a healthy competition, only if the person you are up against is you. I know it’s cliche, but being better than yourself is actually something that you can control 100% of the time. I also believe it’s the only true measure of success in life. Not only does it help you, it helps everyone else too.

Photo by Vlad Bagacian on Unsplash

Take some time now to think about how much you have improved in your life. Keep doing that every now and again. By all means, keep being competitive, keep wanting to improve, keep learning. Just remember who you are truly up against.

I can assure you that nothing makes me happier than being better than I was yesterday.

Till next time!

– Verrel

Featured image by Vitolda Klein on Unsplash

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