Comparison is the thief of joy.” — Theodore Roosevelt

Global factors such as an outdated education system and a flawed social culture are always looking to measure one against another. So much so that comparison is now an everyday part of our lives, much like eating or sleeping.

Right from childhood, our parents unwittingly compare us to children from other families or even our siblings. As this happens at home, the education system and society do the same outside of the home.

In school, you are ranked based on some assessment. You are either first, second or last, or any of the positions in between. It continues at the workplace where your performance is constantly measured against some standard and against that of your colleagues.

Society compares everything. The sharpness of your mind. The dexterity of your hands. The size of your bank account. The value of your house. The worth of your car. The depth of your beauty. The quality of your clothes. The range of your influence.

It’s a never-ending business—one society never gets tired of. Everyone around you is almost always comparing you to another person in some way. Parents, teachers, boss, friends and even your spouse.

This constant comparison results in one thing: competition.

We find ourselves competing with the next person just to lead the ratings and rankings. We constantly seek ways to outdo the other party, whether that’s a person or a company.

Comparison fuels our drive to compete. It energises us to go past the other party. We yearn to get ahead at all costs. Share on X

We seek to be the reference point for comparison. We desire to be the standard against whom everyone else is compared. We strive to be the first—the best, the most and all the other superlatives.

You don’t want these two outcomes

And so we land in the bottomless comparison trap and the unending competition struggle. Yet these two issues have either of two unhappy outcomes.

One: you continue to chase those ahead of you, never catching them. For different reasons. Often because they have leverage you don’t.

The endless pursuit leaves you frustrated and sad. You don’t pause to enjoy your victories or appreciate how far you have come. You miss your deserved happiness and fulfillment.

Two: you get ahead of the pack and sit atop the list. You expect to find self-actualisation and elation, but they are not there. All you get is an echoing emptiness. All that struggle and stress for nothing. A sour success.

Greatness is not a destination, neither is happiness. They are internal feelings of self-fulfilment. Both emanate from pursuing your dreams without the extra baggage of comparison and competition.

Once your yardstick for success is how far you are ahead of someone else, you have started failing. Because there will always be those who are better, bigger and greater than you.

Comparison is odious and competition, unless healthy, is a slow poison. If you must compare at all, it should be between where you once were and where you are now. Between who you’re projecting to be and who you are now.

You don't need to compare and compete with the other person. It's unhealthy. What you need is a periodic self-assessment to see how well you are doing. Share on X

And you cannot have an effective evaluation if your dream and life goals emanate from a competitive attitude to be better than a sibling, a colleague, a friend, your parents, or anybody in the world.

Same applies to businesses and organisations.

The right way to grow

The way to grow is to compare your previous self to your current self. To measure your current state against your potentials. The right way is to benchmark and learn from others instead of competing with them.

You already have enough people comparing you to others. Don’t join them to make your life even more difficult. Take the high road. Stay focused on your growth, your opportunities and your prospects.

What’s more? This road guarantees fulfilment and happiness every step of the way. You don’t have to wait until you are number one. You are content in your steady growth and fulfilled with each milestone. And you never have to lose sleep over whether someone else is doing better than you or not.


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