Why Do We Compare?

Posted by Jacinta Hin on April 21, 2009

We compare all the time.

We watch someone deliver a speech and think they’re not in the same class as someone we saw earlier that day.

We observe a person’s achievements and conclude we would have done a better job.

We look at where we are in our career and believe we’re falling behind the people we started out with.

Throughout the day we compare the more mundane as well. The weather is not as nice as it was yesterday, this wine is nowhere close to the one we had last week, and so on.

When we compare, we are caught up in a game that seldom leads to a win for anyone involved.

Perhaps the problem lies in how and why we compare? Most of the time it’s not curiosity about differences and similarities that drives us, but a need to pass judgment.

We use words that put the object of comparison either on a higher or a lower platform and turn our focus to how we feel about that.

Whichever way we direct our feelings, attention drifts to something other than the subject of our comparisons, and is tainted by our emotions.

We also fail to see and appreciate someone or people and places for who and what they and so miss out on the inspiration and the learning.

Next time you catch yourself comparing, move beyond what you feel. Observe the differences and reflect on what you’re really saying.

If you find yourself feeling incapable and thinking others are doing better than you, perhaps this means you are ready to set some new goals for yourself and those others are showing you where you want to go.

This way, comparing becomes an art and a tool for self-improvement.

And, as a bonus, you may come to appreciate the other person’s ‘better’ as well.

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