All about the mind

Comparison is the death of contentment

Indian society was full of comparison. You grew up with it and it was drilled into you from a young age. ‘Look how hardworking the neighbour’s daughter is‘ or ‘Why can’t you get good marks like her?’ Even people you didn’t interact with on a regular basis would compare you when they met you ‘My niece got ___ in her school certificate. She’s going on to study medicine.’ 

You learnt to compare yourself to others on the basis of looks, intelligence, where you live, the stuff you have — everything. As a child you learnt that your self-worth was dependent on how others viewed you. It didn’t matter what you thought about yourself. It was all about how your qualities, abilities, achievements and acquisitions stacked up against your cousins, friends, neighbours and long-lost relatives you saw once in thirty years.

Sadly, this way of thinking becomes entrenched no matter how much you rebelled.

You only realise it when one day, in your thirties, it hits you that part of what is bringing you down is comparison. Except this time, no one else is doing it for you.

It’s when you notice how other women look more toned, fitter and healthier. And you wish you were the same.

It’s when you mentally tell yourself off for lacking self-control and eating that piece of chocolate when someone else you know would never have caved.

It’s noticing how someone else seems happier or more content in their work. Or how someone gets paid better than you do.

It’s when you notice people travelling around the world and wondering where you are going wrong as they have a mortgage too.

It’s making judgements of better lifestyles based on social media and wondering how your life resulted in the way it did.

It’s questioning all your choices and decisions and wondering if your life is good enough.

Before you know it, you are caught up in a web of discontent. Your self-worth, your life, your decisions — you have been basing them in comparison to others. And of course, you don’t measure up. Because you have always been comparing up. Comparing to what seems better. Comparing to potential illusions.

In short bursts of clarity, you realise your own stupidity. You remember what you hated about being compared. You are saddened by the fact that you do it automatically.

Comparisons don’t make anyone happy. You either loathe yourself when you compare up or feel smug and self-satisfied when you compare down. Maybe reminding yourself of that again in your thirties is okay.

After all, it’s never too late to re-learn how to think.

Do you compare yourself to others? If so, how do you stop or how did you grow out of it?

Do share!

***Linking up pretty late this Tuesday with Jess for IBOT and Mackenzie for #MG***

Until next time,

Cheers!!!

SANCH_sig1

 

 

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  • jeremy@thirstydaddy
    April 19, 2016 at 10:49 pm

    Love the title and the post. I think you’ve hit on the simplest way for people to lead happier lives. I think sometimes the word contentment is mistaken for settling or laziness and it shouldn’t be

  • jeremy@thirstydaddy
    April 19, 2016 at 10:49 pm

    Love the title and the post. I think you’ve hit on the simplest way for people to lead happier lives. I think sometimes the word contentment is mistaken for settling or laziness and it shouldn’t be

  • Maliny Mohan
    April 19, 2016 at 11:43 pm

    We all have compared ourselves with others at one point of our life or other, I think. When I am tempted to do that, I reinstate the fact inside me that I am an individual who has her own life to live, which wouldn’t and shouldn’t be influenced by what others are. If for the best, maybe, but never for the worst.
    Maliny Mohan recently posted…Wistful – Short FictionMy Profile

  • Maliny Mohan
    April 19, 2016 at 11:43 pm

    We all have compared ourselves with others at one point of our life or other, I think. When I am tempted to do that, I reinstate the fact inside me that I am an individual who has her own life to live, which wouldn’t and shouldn’t be influenced by what others are. If for the best, maybe, but never for the worst.
    Maliny Mohan recently posted…Wistful – Short FictionMy Profile

  • Corinne Rodrigues
    April 20, 2016 at 1:44 am

    We had a very intresting blog hop on the prompt ‘Comparison is the thief of joy’ some years ago, with people taking different sides on the issue. I think, we Indians grow up with comparisons, because somewhere in the Indian parenting book it says ‘Keep you child humble and motivated by comparing her to every one else’s kids!’
    I think I still compare myself now and then to others and feel bad. It take a lot of work on self-image to get over this, and I’m a work in progress!

  • Corinne Rodrigues
    April 20, 2016 at 1:44 am

    We had a very intresting blog hop on the prompt ‘Comparison is the thief of joy’ some years ago, with people taking different sides on the issue. I think, we Indians grow up with comparisons, because somewhere in the Indian parenting book it says ‘Keep you child humble and motivated by comparing her to every one else’s kids!’
    I think I still compare myself now and then to others and feel bad. It take a lot of work on self-image to get over this, and I’m a work in progress!

  • Vinitha
    April 20, 2016 at 7:05 am

    Very true, Sanch! In India we are forced to compare ourselves with our peers from a very young age. I hated that. I used to argue with my mom about this. I hated it when people compare my sister with me when I did something better. It’s never gonna help anyone. Sad thing is I see educated people who claims that they don’t like comparison is doing the same comparison technique to their kids in an efforts to make the kids do better! Sigh!
    Vinitha recently posted…Memories!My Profile

  • Vinitha
    April 20, 2016 at 7:05 am

    Very true, Sanch! In India we are forced to compare ourselves with our peers from a very young age. I hated that. I used to argue with my mom about this. I hated it when people compare my sister with me when I did something better. It’s never gonna help anyone. Sad thing is I see educated people who claims that they don’t like comparison is doing the same comparison technique to their kids in an efforts to make the kids do better! Sigh!
    Vinitha recently posted…Memories!My Profile

  • Tima
    April 20, 2016 at 7:49 am

    Comparing to potential illusions is the best part of your whole article because at the end of the day you simply don’t know what is going on behind closed doors and amazing trip around the world with a mortgage could mean more debt a woman who doesn’t have one piece of chocolate that you did could mean an eating disorder. We spend our whole
    Lives being illusionists hoping no one will see the wholes the cracks the shame. Screw that.
    Only thing is that is certain is that we are all imperfect . Nothing else is. The person I envy and aspire to be is one who tries to be as decent as possible for themselves and to the world ie social conscience. Yeh get healthier read more improve yourself but that’s it. My brother once told me perfection is the enemy of the good . Some quote he read.

  • Tima
    April 20, 2016 at 7:49 am

    Comparing to potential illusions is the best part of your whole article because at the end of the day you simply don’t know what is going on behind closed doors and amazing trip around the world with a mortgage could mean more debt a woman who doesn’t have one piece of chocolate that you did could mean an eating disorder. We spend our whole
    Lives being illusionists hoping no one will see the wholes the cracks the shame. Screw that.
    Only thing is that is certain is that we are all imperfect . Nothing else is. The person I envy and aspire to be is one who tries to be as decent as possible for themselves and to the world ie social conscience. Yeh get healthier read more improve yourself but that’s it. My brother once told me perfection is the enemy of the good . Some quote he read.

  • Deborah
    April 20, 2016 at 7:50 am

    Sanch, I have a habit of only comparing myself to those who have more, or where I lose out either way. It’s rare that I compare myself to those who have less!
    Deborah recently posted…Book review: Under Italian Skies by Nicky PellegrinoMy Profile

  • Deborah
    April 20, 2016 at 7:50 am

    Sanch, I have a habit of only comparing myself to those who have more, or where I lose out either way. It’s rare that I compare myself to those who have less!
    Deborah recently posted…Book review: Under Italian Skies by Nicky PellegrinoMy Profile

  • Mackenzie Glanville
    April 20, 2016 at 10:31 am

    Brillant post, it is sad that we are taught to compare ourselves with others, really sad. We should be teaching our children to value their individuality! Of course we want them to grow and be successful but not to be better than others just to be the best version of themselves. I love the line you wrote “Comparing to potential illusions”. So well said!!!!! Thank you for linking up, one of the best posts I have read this year! #mg
    Mackenzie Glanville recently posted…How to have a happy marriage #mgMy Profile

  • Mackenzie Glanville
    April 20, 2016 at 10:31 am

    Brillant post, it is sad that we are taught to compare ourselves with others, really sad. We should be teaching our children to value their individuality! Of course we want them to grow and be successful but not to be better than others just to be the best version of themselves. I love the line you wrote “Comparing to potential illusions”. So well said!!!!! Thank you for linking up, one of the best posts I have read this year! #mg
    Mackenzie Glanville recently posted…How to have a happy marriage #mgMy Profile

  • Payal Agarwal
    April 20, 2016 at 2:45 pm

    A sad reality. “Comparison is the death of contentment.” That is so true! We must never forget that we are unique in our own ways.
    Payal Agarwal recently posted…A short trip #MondayMusingsMy Profile

  • Payal Agarwal
    April 20, 2016 at 2:45 pm

    A sad reality. “Comparison is the death of contentment.” That is so true! We must never forget that we are unique in our own ways.
    Payal Agarwal recently posted…A short trip #MondayMusingsMy Profile

  • texerinsydney
    April 20, 2016 at 4:32 pm

    Absolutely. I do it all the time. I try to shake the habit, but damn, my inner voice is a mean bitch sometimes. I’m 42, and I still worry about disappointing my father. This is a man who has consistently proved his devotion and unconditional love to me over and over again, yet I feel like I should do more to deserve it. He has given me no reason to feel this way. But, I compare myself to others and think I could be more successfully, I could be more financially stable, I could have given him more grandchildren (my brother gave him three, and my stepmother brought more into their very blended family), and he has never criticized any of these things I’ve just listed. It is comparison to others that causes me this undue anxiety.
    texerinsydney recently posted…A Real ConfessionMy Profile

  • texerinsydney
    April 20, 2016 at 4:32 pm

    Absolutely. I do it all the time. I try to shake the habit, but damn, my inner voice is a mean bitch sometimes. I’m 42, and I still worry about disappointing my father. This is a man who has consistently proved his devotion and unconditional love to me over and over again, yet I feel like I should do more to deserve it. He has given me no reason to feel this way. But, I compare myself to others and think I could be more successfully, I could be more financially stable, I could have given him more grandchildren (my brother gave him three, and my stepmother brought more into their very blended family), and he has never criticized any of these things I’ve just listed. It is comparison to others that causes me this undue anxiety.
    texerinsydney recently posted…A Real ConfessionMy Profile

  • Parul
    April 21, 2016 at 1:30 am

    When I was growing up, I had this hobby of collecting quotes and writing it down in a diary. One quote that I had written there was “Never compare yourself with others. There will always be few better and few worse than you”. This quote has stayed with me. Sometimes, I feel the pressure but they are not the result of comparison but mostly of admiration. And I tell myself, what are they doing that I am not and it helps me evaluate if that is even a goal for myself. Travelling is one. VT and I can take road trips but we can’t travel abroad – one affordability and then the thought of spending money that is eventually saved for rainy day or family who we support. So, we make the best of the opportunities that come our way. For example VT’s recent assignment in Hong Kong made me see that part. I think we need to look within and reflect before we compare.

    Gosh! That’s a long one Sanch but your fabulous post made me think through and reflect.
    Parul recently posted…Q for Quake #AtoZChallengeMy Profile

  • Parul
    April 21, 2016 at 1:30 am

    When I was growing up, I had this hobby of collecting quotes and writing it down in a diary. One quote that I had written there was “Never compare yourself with others. There will always be few better and few worse than you”. This quote has stayed with me. Sometimes, I feel the pressure but they are not the result of comparison but mostly of admiration. And I tell myself, what are they doing that I am not and it helps me evaluate if that is even a goal for myself. Travelling is one. VT and I can take road trips but we can’t travel abroad – one affordability and then the thought of spending money that is eventually saved for rainy day or family who we support. So, we make the best of the opportunities that come our way. For example VT’s recent assignment in Hong Kong made me see that part. I think we need to look within and reflect before we compare.

    Gosh! That’s a long one Sanch but your fabulous post made me think through and reflect.
    Parul recently posted…Q for Quake #AtoZChallengeMy Profile

  • Pheno Menon
    April 21, 2016 at 4:07 am

    I totally agree. Comparison is really the bane of a peaceful and happy life

    PhenoMenon
    http://goo.gl/Qo7cNW

  • Pheno Menon
    April 21, 2016 at 4:07 am

    I totally agree. Comparison is really the bane of a peaceful and happy life

    PhenoMenon
    http://goo.gl/Qo7cNW

  • EssentiallyJess
    April 21, 2016 at 3:15 pm

    Oh it’s hard isn’t it! Sometimes I compare constantly, and other times not so much. It depends on my mood, really.
    When I am feeling a bit compar-y, I try to take it as far as it can go. So she looks like that, but what does she eat, how much does she exercise, what does she go without or spend money, and I soon realise I have no desire to live that life, and so end up being content. (Or I decide to change.) It works for me.
    EssentiallyJess recently posted…“Don’t take my wings!” The tale of the boxed butterfly #IBOTMy Profile

  • EssentiallyJess
    April 21, 2016 at 3:15 pm

    Oh it’s hard isn’t it! Sometimes I compare constantly, and other times not so much. It depends on my mood, really.
    When I am feeling a bit compar-y, I try to take it as far as it can go. So she looks like that, but what does she eat, how much does she exercise, what does she go without or spend money, and I soon realise I have no desire to live that life, and so end up being content. (Or I decide to change.) It works for me.
    EssentiallyJess recently posted…“Don’t take my wings!” The tale of the boxed butterfly #IBOTMy Profile

  • Denyse
    April 21, 2016 at 3:39 pm

    I guess I have done it all my life and at 66 am less likely to do so now…life has a way of giving us perspective. I wish I had been more internally focussed on success not externally but hey, who could have told me back then. Great post!
    Denyse recently posted…Mum’s Lemon Butter Recipe. 366/112.My Profile

  • Denyse
    April 21, 2016 at 3:39 pm

    I guess I have done it all my life and at 66 am less likely to do so now…life has a way of giving us perspective. I wish I had been more internally focussed on success not externally but hey, who could have told me back then. Great post!
    Denyse recently posted…Mum’s Lemon Butter Recipe. 366/112.My Profile

  • Mackenzie Glanville
    April 24, 2016 at 7:15 pm

    Congrats lovely, I have chosen you as my #mg Featured Writer! Love this post!
    Mackenzie Glanville recently posted…help your family lead a healthier, happier & less stressful life.My Profile

  • Mackenzie Glanville
    April 24, 2016 at 7:15 pm

    Congrats lovely, I have chosen you as my #mg Featured Writer! Love this post!
    Mackenzie Glanville recently posted…help your family lead a healthier, happier & less stressful life.My Profile

  • "We are so lucky to have shape . . . " - reflections from me
    April 25, 2016 at 5:41 pm

    […] blog Living My Imperfect Life, the post I have chosen was one I believe we should all read titled Comparison is the death of contentment.  Feel Free to cop and paste the Featured Writer […]

  • "We are so lucky to have shape . . . " - reflections from me
    April 25, 2016 at 5:41 pm

    […] blog Living My Imperfect Life, the post I have chosen was one I believe we should all read titled Comparison is the death of contentment.  Feel Free to cop and paste the Featured Writer […]

  • Sarah @sarahdipity
    April 25, 2016 at 6:54 pm

    I am so bad when it comes to comparing myself to others, I do it far too much but am trying really hard lately to let that go.

  • Sarah @sarahdipity
    April 25, 2016 at 6:54 pm

    I am so bad when it comes to comparing myself to others, I do it far too much but am trying really hard lately to let that go.

  • Janine
    April 26, 2016 at 6:11 pm

    Ugh such and easy trap to fall into as a blogger… I have to pull myself up on it all the time – still!

  • Janine
    April 26, 2016 at 6:11 pm

    Ugh such and easy trap to fall into as a blogger… I have to pull myself up on it all the time – still!

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