We live in a culture and society where we all compare what we have and who we are to everyone else. We watch television shows where we compare how people look, sing, and dance to others then vote for the best one. In school, we compare our grades to others’ and see where we ranked in class. The question isn’t if you are comparing, but when, where, and how often? I’m telling you from experience comparison is a Joy Thief! Or as I like to say in improper grammar Comparing is the STEAL-er of JOY!
Here are some quick ways to help you combat this sneaky life monster:
- Recognize that everyone that you know is a human. No one has everything figured out, even if it appears so on the outside. Everyone has good and bad qualities. You have exactly the qualities you need to make an impact on this earth. If we all were the same, life would not only be boring but the world as we know it could never go on.
- Remember to look at the other side of the coin. It is so easy to compare yourself to those that have more, seem prettier, are younger, seem smarter, etc. As I pointed out to my youngest daughter, are you only comparing to those better than you or are you realizing the other side of the coin as well? One of the reasons that our family sponsors children from programs like Compassion International, is for moments when my kids shout about life not being fair. I can remind them of these sweet kids and say, “you are right!” “Look at these kids, see how blessed you are to have plenty of food and water that is clean?” Seems obvious but sometimes we forget.
- Try really hard to love and accept your children and spouse (and yourself) for who they are! Who cares what other people think?! Who cares if little Billy is walking at 10 months and your child isn’t walking at 13 months. Comparing can sneak up on you when you least expect it. Your child has wonderful and unique qualities that are going to bless those around him that Billy may not have. Who knows, they may end up best friends because of their differences! Who cares if your child is the shyest child in the room, being shy isn’t a sin, and for many occupations, it is a positive attribute. Just because our culture may not exalt that quality doesn’t mean it isn’t okay. Albert Einstein said, “Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.”
- Combat these feelings with thankfulness. When you walk into someone’s home that you feel is better than yours, look at someone you think is younger or prettier than you, see some child doing something amazing and start to wonder why yours isn’t, try to combat it with thankfulness. Examples may be, “Wow her house is decorated so nicely, I wish mine were!” You might say, “Wow, I love the way she decorates, but I am so thankful for the things I do have. I might be able to implement some of those ideas.” This might be an opportunity to ask this friend for ideas and it will only increase your bond. Or, “she is such a better mom than I am, she: stays home/works/ works part time/ homeschools/ private schools/ never yells…” pick one! You might say, “I really like the way she does x, y, z, but I am so thankful for my family and there are so many things we do that I love.” The more specific you are about what you are thankful for, the better it will be. It isn’t always easy but it does help.
Remember this doesn’t mean you can’t find things you admire in others or strive to better certain things you might not love in your life. Just remember everyone you are comparing yourself to and go back to #1.