The biggest error we can make in our life is ‘comparison’. Comparing yourself to someone else’s status or capacity in life is like drinking an evil poison when you do so from a place of lack. It turns into jealousy and enmity, and ultimately the worst of all: regretful hopelessness.
I saw a meme recently that said, “Right now you’re living someone else’s dream while you dream of something else.” I think that sums it up nicely, don’t you?
You might be thinking, “yeah, but Scott…I don’t make comparisons from myself to others, I love my life.”
There’s a mild misnomer here. Most of the time you’re right, you don’t make comparisons. But sometimes you do. When someone says something to you about a famous celebrity’s new house or car or their adoring fans, or that incredibly super posh beach they were spotted at, and you might snicker, “Must be nice!”
That’s the first seed. The second seed, or sprout, is when you start thinking about how you want that new house or new car or some adoring fans of your own. And you might even have machinations on how to pull it off. Then you run into the first, third, and thousandth obstacle and voila, you remember that celebrity and the ‘ease’ with which their life and dreams unfold and how all you need is X, Y, or Z to make that possible for yourself.
In other words, comparison is one of numerous paths to the heart of suffering. I can’t imagine we don’t all do this. I’ve done this plenty in my life. And to say that it doesn’t have a real effect on the heart is a deceit. Not just the emotional ‘heart center’, but the physical heart as well. If we dwell on the life we want to have instead of the life we have now, we will suffer greatly. Especially if our viewpoint is that we lack all the things necessary to make our life what we want it to be. Because that’s really the strong branches of the tree of comparison that grow in the mind and heart. We keep thinking about what we don’t have and what we wished we had and how we’ll probably never get it anyway.
To look at this nakedly, this act of comparing, without judgment, it opens doors in your spirit. It shows you where you are in your life right now and begs you to consider what’s real for you. To do this you have to be willing to look at your life, beautiful, amazing, and yes, warts too. You have to just look at it.
What dream are you living right now that someone else wishes they had? Have you ever considered that? And if you are ‘living the dream’ I beg you one thing only: to wake up from it.
Here’s another thing about the comparison game: we have to rely on it. So those who say “I never make comparisons” are either lying to everyone, or just deceiving themselves. We need to make all kinds of comparisons to get through our life. Comparing ourselves to what others have or experience is surely bad, but we must compare one apple to the one beside it. We must make some comparisons to others. Let me provide an example: someone says something nasty to you with a particular tone. You can react habitually as you might be inclined to do. Then again you can respond with a pause. You can even ask yourself after the fact: am I like that? If you have never said a nasty thing to anyone, your own children included, then I guess you’re off the hook. People are mirrors to us. Their greatness and capacity, their talents and strengths are all qualities we already possess. So too are all the negative ones. If we learned to look at the strengths and talents as something we posses in a developmental phase of our being, we could work on that day by day. If we realized that those same demons that others we know wrestle with are very similar to our own demons, we can also work with that.
Comparisons are a necessity for our lives, and they are so subtle that most of the time we don’t even catch when we are making them.