Why comparing yourself to others THIS WAY is healthy?
You’ve always been told not to compare yourself to others, right? However we are social beings who like to model one another. Who we are, how we “do” life, and who we are becoming is greatly influenced by our interactions with the people in our influence circles, our experiences, and the community we are part of. Granted, a lot of us don’t have a choice to live and work wherever we feel like doing so. I have recently been thinking about contentment.
Why am I so discontent from time to time and how do I overcome discontentment?
What I’ve noticed within me and my close friends is that we sometimes have a self-inflicted disease – I call this disease the “compulsive comparative disorder.” You see, whenever I start viewing my life through the lens of my family, my friends, my co-workers or somebody I know on Facebook – there is a danger that I compare my life situation to “where they are at in life.” The problem though is I’m biased – all these people I compare myself to are supposedly doing better than me at this thing called life, are happier, are living their dreams, and the list goes on. It’s important to remember that this is all subjective and these thoughts are just going through my head.
This kind of comparison I believe is one of the root causes of discontentment. When we think other people in our influence circles are doing “better”, then we become discontent because we somehow want to be where they are at in life. We begin to become ungrateful, frustrated, and even angry at our circumstances – typical signs of discontentment. Whether these people we compare ourselves to are actually doing better or not is irrelevant – I’m purely talking about our perceptions.
The fact that we are social beings means that we cannot easily detach from our habits of viewing our lives through the lens of those around us but we need to be careful with this disease called, “compulsive comparative disorder.”
So is there a healthy way to compare our lives with those around us?
The key is to ALSO compare our lives with people who we think are not doing as well as us in life. This again of course is all to do with our perceptions. When we compare our lives with those that we feel are not as fortunate as us – we begin to get a more balanced view of our circumstances. Remarkably, I’ve noticed in my personal life when I compare myself to those that are not as fortunate as me, I become very thankful for the gift of life and my circumstances are no longer a reason for my complains.
Do you find yourself being discontent as a result of comparing your life with other people? Try comparing your life with people around you who are not as fortunate as you are. Your outlook might just change.
If you need professional help to explore your discontentment do talk to one of the counsellors at TalkItOver.