“COMPARISON is the thief of joy”.
I’m not so sure.
Franklin Roosevelt’s observation about this habit only tells half of the story in my view, throwing the baby out with the bath water.
Simply telling ourselves or others not to COMPARE as a blanket rule is a little naïve, as it seems this is a natural part of human curiosity. Looking to see how, when, where and why those we admire as well as those people we find challenging are navigating life helps us learn. COMPARISON is only the thief of joy if we use it fearfully. If we use COMPARISON with respect for human differences we can actually learn … even evolve, if we also live and let live. It is only when we use harsh judgment to make ourselves or the other party wrong after we have made our COMPARISONS that we do emotional damage.
When we become a true and loyal friend to others and ourselves our sense of humour, respect, patience and loving compassion dominates the relationship. We do not remain friends with those who ridicule, criticize and disrespect us. If we are in a relationship where these traits dominate this is not friendship but unhealthy co-dependence. So if a friend came to us after fearfully COMPARING themselves to another, concluding that they were flawed, we would be quick to remind them of their assets and value to us and to those who love them. We also need to do this for ourselves if we ever fall into the trap of concluding we were “less than” after making a fear based COMPARISON with another.
Let us just take the Olympic games for example? Elite athletes do need to observe what is possible to achieve thus they deliberately COMPARE times and techniques as they study their competitors. They then evaluate their research to adjust their training. However, when the athlete actually competes with others, their primary focus needs to be on striving for their personal best, to stay in their own lane, on their own personal best efforts and fiercely focus.
There are always going to be those around us that have differing levels of beauty, athletic ability, financial smarts, emotional wisdom and an intellectual capacity that make choices that we can learn from. Some people are shining examples; others are a bloody good warning. Both examples of what to do, and what not to do in life are equally valuable.
As long as we are able to acknowledge when we COMPARE ourselves with another that variety is truly the spice of life and different from us does not always mean better or worse, COMPARISONS can be very informative and helpful. I often use Einstein’s words of wisdom when I find any of my Emotional Fitness clients emotionally beating themselves up with the fearful habit of COMPARSION.
Einstein’s little quote about COMPARISION I find delightfully comforting for I visualize it as I say it…
“Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree it will live it’s life believing it is stupid.”
Some of us just were not born to climb trees. Monkeys and fish are on this planet to experience life from very different perspectives. You and I are also here to have our own divinely unique experience. Our fingerprints are not duplicated, nor are our heart prints. So when it comes to COMPARISON in future hopefully these words may remind those goldfish amongst us, like me, to enjoy as we observe monkeys climbing and playing in the trees rather than envy them.
Letting go of fearful judgment that shadows COMPARSION is where many of us need to make some changes. Monkeys too may observe us goldfish with wonder and curiosity and hopefully a generous and non-judgmental heart.
Let’s remember to use the art of COMPARISON with a little more respect so we can live, learn, evolve and admire all the wondrous human differences surrounding us with an open and generous heart.
Lotsa love Cynthia xxx
© Copyright 2016 Cynthia J. Morton Emotional Fitness™