Why Comparing Yourself to Others Is a Recipe for Unhappiness

Mar 31, 2023

You vs. You

Thought of the week:

“How much time he gains who does not look to see what his neighbor says or does or thinks, but only at what he does himself, to make it just and holy.” ― Marcus Aurelius

In this week's dose, I share how comparison kills contentedness.

No one is going to cry at your funeral because of how much money you made, how many times you hit quota, or how much property you owned.

They'll cry because of the LOVE you gave and the IMPACT you had on their life.

All we really have in life is our relationships.

It's OK to aspire to create an amazing life, but don't lose sight of what matters most.

Especially as men, it's easy to lose sight of what matters.

We're protectors & providers and from an early age, we're conditioned to think success equals our value.

Whether it's to make more money in comparison to people around you, win in sports, have a nice house.

It's all rooted in comparison.

It's the idea of big fish small pond or small fish big pond.

We place our value on how we compare to others and where we believe we need to level up.

But level up in what way?

In relation to others? To move up the stack rankings?


This is a futile pursuit. We need to level up in comparison to our old self.

To challenge ourselves to keep growing because growth is part of our spiritual evolution.

But not to grow based on how we compare to someone else.

I experience this all the time in jiu-jitsu.

I want to get better, but I catch myself wanting to get better in COMPARISON to other guys in my studio.

To be able to see my progress only if I can 'beat' them in a practice session.

The problem with that is when I don't 'beat' them, I can feel bummed out.

I remember a training session in which I was still a white belt (ultra-beginner) sparring with my teacher in Denver.

Professor Liera has been training for 18 years since he was 12, is a multi-time world champion, and is recognized as one of the brightest minds in the sport globally.

After our 4-minute sparring session - where he completely shut down my offense and sliced through my defense - I was SO dejected.

I wanted to feel like I was making progress!

It was so obvious how I felt that he put his hand on my shoulder with a half smile and said "Dudeee relax, you're doing great."

And I realized immediately that instead of focusing on my own game, I was comparing myself to one of the best ever who had trained 20x longer than me.

On the flip side, when I'd train with someone who was brand new, I'd feel better about my game because they didn't have the skills I had built yet.

And when we compare, we tend to only compare to the people ahead of us on our journey.

We only pay attention to the delta between where we are and where we are NOT.

Not on all the progress we've made.

Even if we close the gap, we automatically re-aim our sights to something higher.

I'm sure you've heard the famous quote, "Comparison is the thief of joy."

It's the antithesis of gratitude.

Comparing to others doesn't mean you're less than or worth less.

It means you're human.

For millions of years, it was our way of gaining status, mates, and finding our role within our community.

But it's the fastest way to kill your ability to feel content.

So reflect on YOU.

How far you've come, how much effort you've put in, how GRATEFUL you are that you are even someone who WANTS to grow.

Feel lucky that you have the drive to read newsletters on personal development.

And simply work to keep progressing, regardless of what others are doing.


Tim 🖤

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