I was inspired to share some thoughts about comparing yourself to others after just reading a new article in The Elephant Journal, titled “How I Stopped Comparing Myself to Others.” Reading this article reminded me of how comparing yourself to others connects with mindful living. I thought of how this behavior is one of the many personal behaviors we can be watchful for. Staying on a path of personal development by recognizing our human foibles and areas of growth is essential for wellness.
Mindfulness is not only about a moment of meditation, being in the present, or taking pleasure in mundane daily tasks. Mindfulness also includes being mindful about your thoughts, words and actions. Mindfulness is discovering who you are and what you bring to the world. It’s an opportunity to do an internal check in and make adjustments to be a more positive contributor to family, neighbors and the community. As a mindful person, you will recognize room for growth in your own mental state and interacting with others. Having respect for and loving oneself is essential and always ripe for mindful exploration. One key to self-respect is not overly comparing yourself to others.
Have you ever found yourself comparing yourself to others? Is it a rare event or a constant state of being? If you are regularly measuring yourself against others, you’re likely in a comparison trap. Try climbing out of this trap sooner than later as it will sap you of your positive energy. Positive energy is what keeps you truly and sincerely enjoying your way of living. And, staying positive will help reduce your stress and give you the inspiration to make good decisions about your own personal wellness. It’s the Mediterranean way.
Firstly, recognize that you are surrounded by amazing talents and abilities. There is inspiration all around you! Be inspired by others accomplishments and creations. Conversely, there will always be someone more knowledgeable on a topic. There will always be someone who is smarter, stronger or more charismatic. At the very least, come to an acceptance of this reality. At your best, you can celebrate this way of the world and the beings in it. Stave off your ego, yet know that you have much to offer. Create a balance of being motivated to share your talents, while gaining contentment from the act of creating and sharing what you have with others.
Let us not forget wisdom. There is wisdom all around us. We can tap into the wisdom of others and celebrate the deep knowledge they bring. Bring all of your listening powers to uncover the wisdom that is being shared. Put your own thoughts and knowledge tidbits on the sidelines and soak in teachings of those who have a depth of experience. You can grow a little wiser by listening for understanding.
I bet you know someone who knocks others down to lift themselves up. Try to be the opposite of that person and notice when others are down and lift them up. Here is an exercise to check on your own behavior: For 24 hours, be cognizant of every time you are about to say something negative about someone you know. Yes, this includes the “annoying colleague” or “pestering family member.” In that moment, take that negative and turn it into something positive or at least productive and kind that you can say. This is an interesting exercise for gaging your own insecurity. It’s also an opportunity to recognize the humanity of anyone, regardless of their attitude or circumstances.
Another good exercise is to make a list of all of your own abilities and contributions. Tack that list to the inside of your medicine cabinet or another place where you will notice the list. Also, please do notice what you are good at. I highly recommend the book StrengthsFinder 2.0 by Tom Rath, which he created to help people uncover their talents. Focus your energy on your own progression in growing your own abilities. And, be sure to include some exploration of activities that will uncover any hidden abilities you might have. Try something artistic, take up a musical instrument or make a recipe for a new cuisine in your kitchen. The act of creation is an inspiration and brings the focus back to you and what you can share with others.
Stop by The Elephant Journal and read Catherine Chea’s article that includes her four steps to climb out of the hole of comparing yourself to others.
Photo Credit: Christine Dutton